Sunday, December 30, 2012

WAY too good not to steal!

OMG, my pastor is a rocking writer!  Love this guy, enough to post (steal) his newsletter article.  In the literary world, they say stealing is the biggest compliment an author can get.  This is how I justify my actions (ironic, isn't it, considering I'm stealing from a pastor?) but my justification is I fully believe in giving credit where it is due.
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Dear Friends,
I taught aerobics,
mostly step classes, for
nine years. I watched,
every January 2nd,
as a whole herd of
new aerobics students
flooded eagerly into
their first class. For
most of them, it was the first day of their new
membership – bought almost immediately
after single handedly (and in record time)
eating every last chocolate Santa left
hanging on the Christmas tree. After twentyfour
hours of tearfully staring at the scale
and a mirror-induced identity crisis, they
felt called to sign a lifetime contract at the
local gym and pencil aerobics classes into
their personal calendar through the year
2020. They bought new clothes and fancy
shoes. They began eager enough to stand
in the front row. Determined to one-day
wear spandex. To stare down their goals and
ride it out to the bitter end. Which for most,
wound up being January 10th.
Year after year, I would look out on
January 2nd and see great determination in
the room. And by January 4th, I would see
that determination waning. Students would
complain that not one person recognized
the amazing physical transformation they
experienced in their first class. Many who
continued through the first week noticed that
their thighs were beginning to mutiny. Their
muscles were sore and their shoes smelled.
No one mistook them for the dancers in
music videos. By the second week they said
they felt like even God was rolling Her eyes
at them. Disillusionment. Despair. Drop
out.
This usually happened to the snickering
of the regular members. They point at new
members who get lost in the locker rooms.
Smile as they struggle with new machines.
They practice a polished cynicism. Take
pride in helping to fulfill their own
prophecies that the new members would be
gone by February.
I say this here because there are many
parallels between physical goals and
religious ones. People who go to church
seek spiritual fitness. Stronger relationships.
More stamina in their convictions. More
power in their lives. Churches are places
where people want to become stronger than
their fears, develop heartier sense of hope,
find some endurance for the love they feel
in their hearts. But whether it’s muscles
or meaning that is sought, it’s the same in
both arenas. Fitness, whether physical or
spiritual, requires three things: a sustaining
vision, commitment, and community.
All too often, and despite our better
intentions, we end up acting less like our
ideal character and more like the professor
on Gilligan’s Island. We can find ways
to fashion generators from palm fronds,
vaccines from algae and transistors from
coconuts, but we can never get down to
fixing that huge hole in the boat so we can
get home.
It is important that we, in this religious
community, remember this. We live in a place
and a time where spiritual disillusionment is
rampant. Where people feel discouraged by
the lack of care and conviction in the world.
Where they are seeking some help fixing
some huge hole so that they can find home.
It is going to be up to us to help them
find their way around, even as we continue
to discover it for ourselves. We will need to
help them discover the resources we offer,
how to find them, how to use them, how to
create them. We will need to help them find
their place at the table, to learn their names,
to encourage them when they stumble and
to make them welcome. We can make the
difference between their discovery or their
despondency. Between their enthusiasm or
their apathy.
We have the chance to make a huge
contribution to people’s lives and an even
larger contribution to the life of liberal
religion in Prince William County. We have
a chance to help people find what they’ve
been looking for. We can do it. All we need
to do is to put away the palm fronds, algae
and coconuts and build something that will
take us all home.
To the Glory of Life.
Reverand Greg
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