I can hardly believe we are already a month into 2015. I am still getting used to the idea of 2015. It takes courage to live into and embrace the future, doesn’t it?
Of course, that always trumps clinging to the past, even an illustrious past. In fact, that is how our past became storied. By being fully present in the moment, and by being unafraid to live into, even to become, a different kind of future. The educated Pilgrims who carried Congregationalism to New England’s shores were conscious of doing something new, and not being slavishly beholden to the past.
We can gauge our willingness to meet the future on its own terms, or even ahead of the curve, in little ways. For example, some Deacons wanted to attempt an alternative worship. When that was brought up, no one said, that will never work. Or we have already tried that in the past. Or all that sounds like too much effort.
Instead we heard, why not try it on for size and see how it fits? Instead we said, why not experiment with the idea and see what we have? We have found that our “Come As You Are” services on Sunday evenings have struck a responsive chord, if you will pardon my little pun. We offer the fourth and last installment of the original run this Sunday. Make sure you stop by, if you are curious. We don’t know if it can sustain itself over time. We don’t know how we could staff it. But we know the Spirit has moved among us and we will interpret what it could mean.
The willingness to give an idea breathing room and experiment with it gives God creative openings. Another way a church lives into the future is by putting the needs, circumstances, and hopes of those we hope to attract ahead of our own. I have seen that happen in the way our church has been willing to experiment with Sundays like Blessing of the Animals, Hymnfest, and Fat Sunday, soon upon us.
To the untutored eye, these angled Sundays might seem light, frothy and breezy. They might seem like what some mock as “church lite.” What they are is opening sealed doors and windows to let new breezes blow through our meetinghouse. Have you noticed the number of visitors increasing on special Sundays? I have.
Such atypical Sundays are more accessible to the unchurched than others. They attach the gospel to realities beyond our four walls. They hit keynotes of joy that is an attractive contagion. They create a buzz around FCC, Darien. Putting first others not yet here by imagining how they could embrace praise is a little way we live into the future. Except it is not little at all, as new member classes will attest.
Of course, most of our own adore and anticipate these Sundays. But that those who feel tepid about them tolerate them, allowing us to reach beyond ourselves, is a measure of FCC’s willingness to live into the future. Another sign is as the feeling of “the best is yet to come” trumps the feeling of “weren’t things grand, way back in our glory days?,” whenever the church perceives that to have been.