First things first: Thanks to every member of the Church of the Advent and many of our neighbors and friends. The way in which we were able to honor the passing of our friend and brother Deacon Charles Baldwin is a testament to the truth that we don’t just go to church we are the church.
Saturday was one of the hardest days of my 20+ years of priesting and it was by sunset one of the most gratifying. I was pleased to share our wonderful properties with Madison as we hosted the whole town’s gathering. I was made keenly aware of how much effort it takes not only to bring together 400 or so given the limited capacity of our worship space and parish hall but also to see so many coming together to meet the needs of Sue and the Baldwin family and guests these past few days.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Secondly, the truth that we are church we don’t just go there is a recently reinforced reminder that I need to keep learning over and over. We have the nearly unique charge to care for our historic properties so that all of Madison and Morgan County can count on us. But our life together as church needs also to be understood as so much more than a prudent and generous use of facilities.
Maybe some of my Sunday v. Sabbath musings have been getting at this same understanding. I guess there will always be a tension between doing and being, between resting and rejoicing, or between going to a church and being a church. All are healthy tensions but ones that shouldn’t let us satisfy our selves with seeing worship attendance as the best measure of our well-being.
Becoming that church starts with a calling. From the Greek, ekklesia the New Testament term is the one that gets translated most often as church. Its built on the root word kaleo - to call. The church is that assembly that is “called out.” Distinguished from within the world to become something that the world simply cannot become on its own.
When Genia and Ray Bennett drive to Amelia Island; Brian Lehman delivers a casserole cooked by Patsy Aldridge; Bob and Mary McCauley make signs to designate parking for the handicapped; Susan Kurtz calls the caterer; Allison Waldrip, Bill Abbott and Anna Marett fold bulletins Friday at 6PM; Ginger Kroeber lends me her iPad on a moment’s notice; or Alex, Kate and the Branches squeeze into the balcony we are answering God’s call. Doing that is a greater testament to who we are than any gorgeous historic structure well inhabited could be.
Saturday’s events and gatherings were answers to a call. In response to the loss of our friend and brother Charles we were asked, invited, challenged, encouraged, in a few cases required and in all cases called out to be the church. It is a high calling and one that should have us not only thanking each other but thanking God even more.