Several of my Acts 8 compatriots have written about the Church and what that means in the past few days, so I thought I’d throw in my two cents.
At present, I am sitting on the floor of the Cleveland airport.
This is not a euphemism for anything. My flight back to Kansas City is delayed and the shoeshine stand guy won’t let me sit in in his empty booth and I need to charge up my iDevice, and so, here I sit, on the floor, underneath the laptop work station, returning from a meeting where I rewrote the disciplinary canons of the Episcopal Church.
So, naturally, my thoughts turn to the status of the Body of Christ in a post-Christendom age. (I imagine this happens to all of us when our flights get delayed, right?)
And in this sense, writing this from the airport floor seems like a rather good posture.
(NOW it’s a metaphor.)
At one point, the Episcopal Church rated shoeshines, and seats at the bar, and free drinks in the first class lounge. And probably, at one point in our living memory, we can even remember when we had plentiful chairs to sit in.
Those were heady days.
But we aren’t there anymore. Right now, there’s a feeling in the church that we are firmly planted on the airport floor. With lots of closing churches, a rapidly aging population, and none of the social caché we used to command.
None of that feels great. The floor is not a fun place to be if you’re used to sitting in a comfy chair at a plush bar.
But here’s the interesting thing:
For all of our nostalgia about the good old days, as I look around this airport–
—there’s no one at the shoe shine stand
—there’s no one in the lounge
During this delay, everyone has ended down here on the floor with me, charging their devices. Or clustered around wall outlets, with their phones plugged in.
We may long for the olden days, but that’s not where anyone else is. Even if we could go back, there’s no ministry to be done there.
So while we’re down here, what if we stopped longing after the things that aren’t coming back, and started figuring out what we can do with where we are?
What if we gave up on our safe places where we had become comfortable, and moved out to where we saw the greatest need?
What if we started doing ministry, not just where we thought we could make lots of Episcopalians, but in any place where people needed food, clothing, justice, empowerment and encouragement?
What if we put ourselves out there, to spread tangible signs of the reign of God (all of us–everyone who got sprinkled at baptism) and went out to be salt, light, yeast in the world–little oases in the desert where people can experience Christ?
What if we saw our job as the church as to get down on the floor with people, so we could be where the Spirit is, instead of up where the privilege is?
Becoming a missionary society church will require many things, but mostly, it will require us to embrace where we are.
The new world down here on the floor.
This post is a participating post in the Acts8 BLOGFORCE on “What does it mean to be a 21st century Missionary Society?”
The Acts8 Moment is a missionary society whose purpose is to “Proclaim resurrection in the Episcopal Church.”