Recently I was sitting in a Panera. At a nearby table sat a group of young friends sharing stories about trips to Spain and favorite whiskeys. At another table was a group where everyone used ASL for each other, including a tattooed couple that rode in on a bike. At another a few women discussed jewelry. And out in the main dining area wandered all manner of youth with matching sports shirts.
And I had a thought. "I want this to be church. I want to harness the thing underneath all of this and inject it into the church." The diversity, the camaraderie, the ordinariness and uniqueness of it all. The Spirit is here, and we don't need a special building with stained glass trappings to find Her. Yet how often do people inside the church's walls insist that we do? How disconnected is our faith from all the parts of our lives that isn't the church?
This is why I wrote my book, Coffeehouse Contemplative. Because there are all these ways we set aside to recognize God's presence in the world, and here God actually is if you just sit and listen and watch and reflect on how it is so while in the midst of it.
No more trying to quarantine your spirituality from the rest of your life; that's not how it was ever meant to work. Go forth and see God where you are, all the time, including right now.
This is my prayer for Grace UCC, as much as it is for all who claim a church affiliation. People aren't going to magically appear in our sanctuaries any more. They aren't going to automatically come through our doors if a church has a young pastor or drums in worship or carpet that isn't 1960s orange (though I'd argue that this last one might help). We're past that point in our culture; it no longer exists and it isn't coming back.
So, in response to this new moment, how can my, can your, can our faith be brought to the coffeehouse, to sports practices, to parks and pubs and the DMV and work and everywhere else?
The answer to that question is to think more creatively and be more daring. And to do it together, not just the pastor and Christian Education Director.
So whether you're already a part of Grace and are willing to put in the work and effort or whether you're looking for a church willing to think outside the box and have a perspective to share, I invite you to help me end the quarantine and prayerfully dream about where God is leading us as a church on the cusp of celebrating 175 years together.
Let's be the church for a new age, as God calls us.