I feel like a grumpy old man this evening. While walking to South Centre Mall for supper and then back to the office for an evening meeting, I reflected on stories I have heard over the past couple of years and my own experiences. I ended up feeling angry about how so often power, wealth and comfortable cliques take precedence over ministry. At the same time, I felt very grateful that, in my time with St. Andrew’s, I have seen power and wealth prioritize ministry.
Thinking ahead to the coming restructuring of the United Church of Canada, I hope enough people with vision and commitment to ministry will push against the temptation of many to use restructuring as an excuse to keep not doing work that has not been well done for many decades. This work includes personal evangelism, inviting friends, family, neighbours and acquaintances to share in various aspects of church. Stewardship is another task that has been minimally done for decades. As pastoral relations convenor for Yellowhead Presbytery years ago, I learned that Anglicans and Lutherans require a greater amount of generosity for the work of the wider church. In the United Church, we specialize in cheap church, spending as little as we can on maintaining the support systems shared by all congregations for the advancement of their ministry. Comments I heard at Presbytery and elsewhere suggest this is still a priority for many United Church supporters, choosing cheap over adequate.
I am reminded of another grumpy old man — the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes. It is thought that this collection of wisdom sayings was written by an older person reflecting upon life’s learnings.
“This is the tragedy of everything that happens under the sun: Everyone shares the same destiny. Moreover, the hearts of mortals are full of evil. Madness is in their hearts while they are still alive. After that, they join the dead. But all who are among the living have hope, because a living dog is better than a dead lion.” (Ecclesiastes 9:3-4)
Where there’s life, there’s hope. Time to get ready for my evening meeting.