May, 2008; it feels rather strange to be writing that date.  We are nearing the end of the first decade of the Twenty-first Century.  What bright shining progress have we made?  How much wiser has humanity become in the first step of the new millennium?  How well have we learned from the errors of our collective past?

In the political arena we have reinforced the concept that unless you have vast wealth or connections to vast wealth, political ambitions cannot take you much beyond the local level (excluding major metropolitan areas).  We have also expanded the ease at which it is possible to say anything or imply anything about another person without fear of being held accountable for those statements.  As a matter of fact, the more outlandish the effort the more widely it will be shared.  What sane person wants to invite everyone in the world to examine and embellish their every little stumble or fall and share it with the global marketplace?  Society is more interested in gossip and scandal than it is in substance and depth.

In culture, like politics, we prefer scandal and gossip over anything that requires us to seriously think and examine our own understandings and practices.  We rely upon a vast array of pundits to tell us what is most important, what we truly need to know and what we should have in our homes and lives.  We do not seek glowing examples of human triumph unless it includes some element of humiliation or weakness in that same person.  The most idolized are the ones who get the most money, without consideration of the means of acquiring that wealth nor what is done with that wealth.

I have truly found it amusing that we now have available luxury work vehicles (pickups and off road vehicles) with fancy leathers and rich carpeting.  Imagine hauling a half-ton of manure in a Cadillac or four-wheeling through the swamps in a Mercedes.  Consumerism has become habit.  The marketplace has convinced us to set aside reason and practicality before we enter into the store. Look at the sub-prime mortgage crisis– do we really believe that we can buy a million dollar home for $500 a month in 30 years?

Our communities are beginning to sound like bad reality TV.  We often stop seeing our neighbor as a fellow part of the community and more like the person preventing me from winning the big prize.  We would rather get into heated arguments rather than discuss ways of improving our neighborhoods. We have even stopped thinking in terms of neighborhoods.  Unless you can afford a car and are willing to drive across town, it is difficult to buy a loaf of bread or a bottle of milk or visit the doctor because they have all move out to the edges of town that appear more prosperous. We draw attention away from the more neglected parts of town, and when we decide to improve those parts of town, we are often willing to sacrifice the people who cannot afford rising property values and rising taxes.  In our pursuit to improve we fail to provide affordable and practical housing for the poor, and the elderly.

Now for the Church: Within the Disciples of Christ we seem to struggle with much the same problem as everyone else.  We want our personal agendas to be at the forefront, regardless of the importance of those issues in the Bible.  We withhold funds from the denomination because we are angry about something someone said or did.  We are  willing to sacrifice the Covenant Community in order to prove that we have the true understanding of the Will of God and everyone else is wrong.  We attempt to build a church where everyone looks and sounds the same, where everyone believes and practices the same, and we get upset if someone points out that we need a variety of gifts and a variety of expression and a variety of talents to successfully be the church.

First Christian Church in Warner Robins is not the perfect church, thank God!  We do not always get it right; however, we are trying to get it right.  We see the need for variety.  We see the need for people from all walks of life and all streams of this community.  We welcome everyone who walks in the door without asking for a justification of their faith and worthiness.  We do these things because we challenge ourselves not to sit in judgement, but to love as we have been loved.

We are now striving to reach out and share a word of wholeness and hope to other people.  We are not the place to come and be saved, rather we are the place to come and discover that God’s Grace has already done that and we would like you to join in the celebration of that gift and the reconnection of hope in the lives of others.  We are decidedly in the world, but are trying to live with one foot and all our hope in the world of God, hoping to show God’s presence in this world.

Shalom, Darrell