Saturday, November 07, 2009

small town Sunday and me: we will be just fine

Green Mountain Falls may be a blip on the map. Population less-than-800, its few businesses don't even fill two sides of one street. One gets the feeling of being at least a little insulated from the rest of the world and its tragedies at times. Yet GMF is no less vulnerable to recession than the rest of the nation right now, and my small town Sunday church is feeling it. Outside the sanctuary, charts can be seen with dollar signs on them. I've seen such charts before, usually showing how much money is needed to build the new addition or fund the mission trip. This chart, however, simply shows how much more red the church can handle before it goes under. Not growth, not expansion, not needless spending--just fiscal survival.

As one who cringes at the mention of money during services, I wondered what to expect when the Pastor was slated to give a report from the team dedicated to "stand in the gap" between today's offering and an empty bank account. I wondered what the admonition might sound like, since I know the pastor well enough to imagine that he likewise cringes in such settings. He stood, stared down at the podium for a few seconds, and began.

My pastor never once told his people to give more money that day. Instead, he told them how much he loved them, and how proud he was of the way that they were loving one another and loving the community. He praised them for standing by one another, for embracing every person who walked through the doors, and for seeking to be people who authentically live out their faith. He reminded them that "giving" was about money yes, but about so much more than that. He paused, the continued with the tired but resolved look of a man surrendered to faith. "I know," he said, "that I may not have a salary in 12 months. I know that. But if we keep doing what we are doing, we are going to be just fine. If we keep loving each other, if we keep sharing God's love with the community, we are going to be just fine. Peace be with you." I got home and realized that I had just heard the words of Jesus: Seek the Kingdom, seek righteousness, and you will be just fine.

There was a sermon on Sunday, but for me the moment of transformation was his "report" from the cash committee. I am in my own time of staring at a dismal fiscal forecast. I feel confident that I have followed the road God pointed me down, and it seems to be leading to anything but the farm where the cash cows are kept. Without eyes of faith, things might look rather grim. Yet on Sunday, my pastor called me home to a great truth. There are bigger things at stake in life than money. If I seek God wholeheartedly, if I follow him as best I know how and try to love the world around me, I will be just fine.

Hallelujah. We will be just fine, my small town Sundays and me.