While we are in no way beset by all that Dickens’ time portended, we have some choices about how to live in our own time.
“God has got this,” the attendant in the airport travelers’ lounge said. Indeed.
American culture is patriarchal to the core. As author Leslie Dorrough Smith argues, the ideal male identity remains white, heterosexual and given to “family values” (even while their behavior contradicts this supposed conviction).
I pray declining and fragile congregations that are evaluating their future will make unselfish decisions about the kind of enduring legacy they want to sow. Only God is eternal – not particular congregations, their leaders or even their former missions.
Good leaders never make it to the promised land, a former colleague and model of effective leadership, once remarked. Good leaders always know there is more to do, more to learn and more pilgrimage to make.
Giving our heart to Jesus is not only a private soteriological exchange; it has to do with a reoriented life that puts the well-being of others ahead of selfish interests. It is a persistent attempt to live as Jesus did, in the power of the Spirit.
Let us rejoice with Mary that God keeps promises and will ultimately conquer all that tramples the weak and outcast. The Mighty One did great things for her – and will for us.
The ecosystem of congregations, judicatories and the institutions that prepare persons for ministry has been fraying across the denominational spectrum.
In a sense, the whole world is God’s mixing bowl, and we are part of the ingredients to feed others.