“If my own experience can be trusted, then God does not call us once but many times. There are calls to faith and calls to ordination, but in between there are calls to particular communities and calls to particular tasks within them – calls into and out of relationships as well as calls to seek God wherever God may be found.”
Barbara Brown Taylor from The Preaching Life
I took a “sabbatical” from church a while ago. I felt I needed to step back and think on things – how I felt about traditional church, community, “calling,” the role of church and faith in the 21st century, and all the trappings that accompany those ideas. As a friend of mine on a similar journey replied when asked when she might return to church, I determined I would return “when I miss it.”
Well. I have missed it. The community, that is. I never stopped reflecting on my faith, God/Higher Power/Eternal One/Creator, and my place in this world. I, perhaps, did not miss community so much as I briefly lost the desire to search for the right community for me at this point in my life. I think I might have found that recently.
But let me digress for just a moment. I used to feel sorry for those who said they didn’t “need community,” that they could worship God as easily on the lake on Sunday morning as they could in church. Then I became one of those “lake people.” And I probably had some folks feeling sorry for me that I didn’t “get it.” That’s ok, too. I’m ready to “get it” – community – again, both in the sense of understanding its importance and enjoying the company of others on a faith journey.
My good friend, Marcus, has been pastoring a church in Kansas City on a temporary basis. I visited not long ago because I missed hearing him preach, it was Advent, and I missed community during that season of the church year. I have continued to visit, and may put down roots. As I shared with my mother recently, it is a smallish congregation that is diverse in every sense – black and white, male and female, old and young, straight and gay, reserved and charismatic (in the SAME service!). To which she exclaimed, “just like real Christians!” Yes, Mom, just like real Christians, and real Christian community. That is what I have missed. It is the kind of community I’ve been hoping to be a part of for a long time – which is not to diminish any previous church family I have previously been a part of. But I am at a different place in my faith journey, my spiritual calling, and my quest for a “home” to delve more deeply into both. I find myself at a mid-life crossroads of sorts, and it seems highly appropriate that this is the name of the church community I find myself becoming a part.
As Marcus shared this morning (and he was far more erudite than my summary will do justice), this journey isn’t just a GPS trip from point A to point B, but more like a scavenger hunt in which each discovery along the way, prepares you for your next destination. The quickest way to get lost is to try to speed to the finish line and skip those important intermediate stops along the way, or to merely stay in one place hoping to eventually see the destination in sight.
My latest stop has me at (a) Crossroads, and I can’t wait to find out what I’m going to learn in this new community, and how it will prepare me for my next destination in the journey.