Some days it becomes obvious that I don’t get out much – at least out in “church world.” You’d think I would remember that I’ve been part of a boutique denomination connected to a minority movement within Christianity who helped me plant a radical expression of the church in a blue-state city. You’d think I’d remember, but I don’t. I regularly, maybe daily, forget where Jesus has led me. I somehow think most people, much more most Christians, are basically like me. They are and they aren’t, but mostly aren’t, at least when it comes to faith.
Millionaires and egg hunts
For instance, we were mutually amazed last night when we were talking in a small group of our Leadership Team and one of us mentioned how she had just had a conversation with some of the “girls back home” about the megachurch she used to attend. She noted that all the elders were millionaire men. She noted to us that if we had “elders” she would be one of them and she is a broke, brown woman. I honestly did not think we were that odd. I guess we are.
Then one of our pastors was considering whether to have an Easter egg hunt in order to meet some of the neighbors and stir up some fun. This would be unusual for us. We are much more likely to advertise the discussion on the antiracist book we’ve been passing around, than think of having an egg hunt. Come to find out, another church in town has had egg hunts that attract 1000’s of people. I never even heard about it and 1000’s of people were involved — an egg hunt! I remembered Gwen standing in front of our youth group with our meat tenderizer, setting a chocolate bunny up on the table and smashing pagan fertility symbols as a visual aid. I guess not everyone does that. I forget.
Success would be nice
Some days it also becomes obvious that I don’t want to get out much. One day last week I recalled for my journal that I felt very unsuccessful. My initiatives were resisted; my appointments were cancelled; I felt tired. So I asked the Lord what was going on. Most of my feelings seemed to focus on the challenges. I did not really want to face any. What I really wanted (and expected) was everything to work out, at least not have everything go wrong. I felt like I should be honored, my value appreciated, my work received with thanks, my love understood and received (without any need to prove it), my enthusiasm and hope matched, my personality twinned, my time unwasted; it went on. I realized how demanding I am. But don’t you want all that? I did not fully realize how much I wanted it all until I did not succeed at getting it and was reduced to prayer.
Now this week I find out that millionaire elders put their resources into egg hunts and it works. Churches are full of egg hunters. No wonder I am not nearly as successful as I’d like. (I know, I am more successful than I deserve). But it would be really great to succeed. I suppose I will have to face some challenges: all those unnecessary, unwarranted, unwelcome challenges, again (and again).
Lack of success reduces me to prayer
Today I was drawn back to my old favorite, Luke 8:1-8. Jesus reminded me again to pray and not lose heart, not faint. At the end of the day, Jesus is not looking for my success, he is looking for faith that trusts him for life no matter what the circumstances seem to be saying. Hopefully, I will not just be looking for success while He is looking for me! His justice will arrive like an unexpected storm, “and yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
In 1904 Alexander McClaren wrote about these verses as the era of the “robber barons” was coming to a close (so this may sound familiar):
“An epoch of materialism in philosophic thought has always been followed by violent reaction, in which quacks and fanatics have reaped rich harvests. If the dark is not peopled with one loved Face, our busy imagination will fill it with a crowd of horrible ones.
Just as a sailor, looking out into the night over a solitary, islandless sea, sees shapes; intolerant of the islandless expanse, makes land out of fogbanks; and, sick of silence, hears ‘airy tongues’ in the moanings of the wind and the slow roll of the waves, so [people] shudderingly look into the dark unknown, and if they see not their Father there, will either shut their eyes or strain them in gazing it into shape.”
I did not need to spend much time peering into my fog this morning before I saw the loved Face. But we are still sailing through an islandless sea in an era full of quacks and fanatics. Easter egg hunts work. “Black lives matter” seems like a radical statement rather than a moot point. I lament my relative lack of success. Maybe we should have an egg hunt. Maybe we should keep saying black lives matter. Maybe I should get over myself.
And maybe we should remember Jesus lamenting his relative lack of success. He taught his followers to keep “bothering” God with their demands for a response to their just requests, like: save me from quacks, Trumps, heartless millionaires, mega-whatever and my own impatience and self-criticism! But Jesus had to wonder whether when he returned, he would still find anyone faithful, still praying, still hanging in there to receive just what they longed for, or not.