In my almost five years at First Christian Church, I’ve made it a custom in the final Dialogue of the year to make a list of things I’m wishing will come to be by Christmas a year later. So, here’s what I’m hoping for in the coming year:
A Better Economy—I’ve been wishing for this one for the last three years. My heart continues to go out to people in our church and community who are unemployed as well as those who depend upon government and private programs to get by—programs facing cuts!
New Energy at FCC—It’s been great to see some new church members come in 2011 with new ideas and the desire to make those ideas happen. I wish for even more of the same next year—new energy to not only offer new ideas but to actually make them happen.
Authority Figures Who Actually Respond to Sexual Abuse—Whether it is people in high positions at Penn State University or in Protestant and Catholic churches, I’m wishing for authority figures who actually put the welfare of children above the reputation of their institutions.
Courage at FCC—At the end of 2010, First Christian took the courageous act of becoming Open and Affirming of all people, including LGBT people. Over the last year, we have faced criticism from outside the church and complaints from some inside the church. I wish for our church to have the courage to see that it is on the right side of history and the right side of God’s grace, so that it will celebrate the love of God for all people rather than listening to those who refuse to open their hearts.
A Great Quarterback for the Chiefs—I like Matt Cassel. I like Kyle Orton. Heck, I even thought Tyler Palko was a nice guy in spite of his interceptions. I’m wishing, however, for my favorite team to actually get a great quarterback rather than just an average one.
Faithfulness During Transition at FCC—As a church, we continue to welcome new members while at the same time we continue to mourn the deaths of long-time members. All the while, some of our members who have served faithfully for years must make the difficult choice to step down due to aging and health concerns. I’ve only been here 5 years, and in many ways the church feels like a whirlwind of change. I know it feels even greater to those who have been here many more years than me. Meanwhile, for new folks, everything about FCC is a significant change from what they have known before. I wish for our church to hold on tightly to God and to each other as we continue to ride this roller-coaster of relationships together.
Quit Messing Up Facebook—I along with every other Facebook user I know makes the same complaint: just when I get used to (and by get used to I mean make peace with) the last overhaul of Facebook, they screw it up by changing it again. Isn’t it enough, Facebook, to have the majority of the world using your social networking device; must you torment us with your constant changes?
FCC Embracing Its Role in the Community—In January, I will have served First Christian for five years, so that makes me a newcomer to St. Joseph. Perhaps that’s why it is easier for me to see the significant role the church plays in St. Joseph. FCC remains an often lonely voice in our community for a faith that is open-minded, inclusive of all people, and grace-oriented rather than judgment-oriented. We cannot offer the types of programs offered by larger churches in our community who have more money and members than we do. But, we can offer a vision of God’s saving work in the world that brings hope to people who have given up on the church as an institution. I wish for FCC to stop being afraid of its God-given role in St. Joseph and to embrace it as a joyous privilege!
I look forward to hearing your wishes for 2012.
Grace and Peace,