Sunday, February 05, 2006

In the wake of Annual Meeting

Ah, that quiet that is not so much the morning after as the eye passing over!

I enjoy annual meetings, always have. There is a sense of "us" coming to terms with who we have been for the past year...And who we are dreaming to become in the next few months.

On the up side, the news was good. We survived the year with a deficit that is roughly half what was forecast. We claimed ground that had not yet been claimed from the perspective of both fiscal/stewardship, but also programs and liturgies.

A couple of days ago, I remarked to a parishioner that I have experienced a wondrous thing. I am being given the chance to see something installed in the church that happens once a generation. For decades to come, long after any and all of us have traveled on from this place, that organ will stand. It is the beginning. For some, it is the beginning of a new chapter for Trinity. For others, it is the close of the old. Still more, including a couple of families that experience for the first time this parish, it is as it has always been. They will never see that white wall, or the cross highlit in relief against it. That expanse of pipes and wood is the real picture of Trinity now. Wow.

The meeting went, well. I think. There is always that mote of doubt. Did that one family leave for a Super Bowl Party, or was it something I, or Doug the Treasurer, or anyone else, said? Did the financials get across? Were the reports clear? Did people "get" where we were going with the presentations? Not easy.

There were some thumbs up from people, sure. It was a joy to hear some offer up with joy the sense of mission and spirit that we are seeking here at Trinity. Still, I do worry. I worry for the folk who are not happy. I worry for the folk who are finding this season of life in the Church a challenge that exceeds accepted levels of comfort. The priest in me know what to seek. From my gut, from the tradition of the Church, I know what our business is: we seek justice; we seek peace; we seek the Will of God.

That does not mean comfort. It means change.

In today's Gospel, Jesus heals and heals and heals. Then, just as his "practice" is getting going, he gathers up his assistants, his disciples, and does the riskiest thing of all. He takes the Good Word on the road.

Too often, in Church, we forget that church itself is not the destination. Or worse, we supplant worldly model on the exercise of church. Either way, the icon of Church too easily gets converted or subverted into something that it is not. I know one priest who always referred to the Annual Meeting as the "report to the stockholders." Another spoke about the meeting as "the old meet and greet with the natives." Both of those images cause my own gorge to rise. I don't think that is the life of Christ. It is Church business. So, let's talk ministry.

Think about today: In one service, we celebrated the installation of the organ, greeted ten wee ones to the Communion Table for their first experience of the Body and Blood, took up a collection for "Souper Bowl Sunday" for the local food pantry, fed over 200 breakfast, gave the annual "report," elected new officers to leadership, extended healing prayers and anointing to dozens, proclaimed the Gospel and celebrated the holy mysteries. Not to mention, the choir sang my favorite Palestrina piece, Sicut Cervus. Just another day in paradise.

A couple of wonderful notes: one senior parishioner expressed concern for the workload of the rector and called for us to seek an assistant. Another exhorted the vestry to resolve the debt service that is constraining the budget. Still another probed, truly probed, the vision and organization of our financial practices. Just another day in paradise.

I think we are starting to ask the right questions. Let's see if God guides us to the answers.

1 comment:

  1. A few reflections on transition. The church feels very healthy and vibrant on many dimensions. In a time of continuous transition to an evolving community in Christ, those who feel most disenfranchised from the past will make disproportionately more noise. During the "soft" transition, i.e. that space between rectors, their relevance was disproportionately, and perhaps appropriately for the time, great. They should be engaged and understood, but this change we undertake is permanent and constant and requires joyous celebrated.
    Be positive - it's exciting.
    Make it infectious.
    Many will follow ... quickly.
    Mistakes will happen - recognize, understand, communicate, address, then move on.
    "If you build it, they will come."
    Question: What is a tradition?