What am I waiting for?
We have just come through our first annual meeting together. It was, in my experience, neither the best nor the worst annual meeting in which I've ever participated. Nor was it the shortest or the longest. As far as annual meetings go, it served its purpose. Veterans of St. John's annual meetings will know that this was the first one in recent memory, maybe ever, where we had to go to a third nominating ballot in order to finally elect Susan Sunnarborg; and there weren't even any hanging chads! Bill Abeles, Sr., took to the microphone to remind everyone that it wasn't about the budget, it was about evangelism. And at the preceding services, I preached a sermon around the topic of immediately following Jesus in the ministry of the church.
I find it interesting then, and maybe even a little providential, that on Monday morning as I was reading The Living Church I came across two articles having to do with getting us out into the world. One was on Prayer Book revision, which I'll address next week. The other one was entitled “Twelve-Hour Coffee Hour.”
In that article the author wrote about priests who had made an effort to get out of the office and into the community. One priest did this by sitting in a coffee shop offering to listen to people's stories. Another one walked around the community where the church was located and talked with people. When I was in Montana, I hung out in the local bars on a regular basis. These are all good things. These are things I want to begin doing because, as Bill, Sr., pointed out, it's not about the budget, it's about evangelism. And evangelism is more than simply unlocking the church doors on Sunday.
The issue I face, though, is, “When?” Between people scheduling time to meet with me in the office, staff meetings, planning meetings, mid-week Eucharist, sermon writing, Wednesday Words, various clergy gatherings, commission meetings, vestry meetings, parishioner visits, and hospital visits, when? Because, really, I can't exactly announce on Sunday morning that there will be no sermon today since I was hanging out at the bar. Add to that a confession that I haven't really gone out looking for places to be (bars, coffee shops, or otherwise) because trudging through downtown when it's cold, wet, and dreary, looking for spots to hang out and meet people, isn't necessarily my idea of a good time.
Maybe I'll wait until it gets warmer. Maybe I'll wait until my schedule clears up.
Maybe I need to quit waiting for the perfect time and just go. After all, isn't that what the whole “Immediately” thing of this past Sunday's gospel was all about?
Jesus is calling me. What am I waiting for?