The Brave New World?
Five years ago I shared with you my experience driving a tractor-trailer during my seminary years. Over the six months and 25,000 miles I drove, I was sent to dozens and dozens of cities and towns to deliver products for the company I served. Each new town required me to pay close attention to the signs that directed me to the place I needed to go, the bridges I needed to avoid and the route I needed to drive. When I would get lost, I would find a phone (this was in the era before cell phones) and call and ask for directions. After I had visited each place a couple of times, I found I had memorized the directions and could often drive there without thinking much about it. While this helped me do my job well and efficiently, there were large parts of those towns that I missed seeing. I used this analogy to describe how easy it is to fall into familiar comfortable patterns in our life together and stop growing.
It strikes me that the same can be said about the life of TPC. Many of you look back fondly at the “glory days” of our congregation — the days when the church was at the center of life in Tustin and society paid attention to what we said and did. Over the years, society has changed, and we seem to find ourselves “in a new city.” Instead of clamoring for our wisdom and approval, many seem to have forgotten that we exist. I must admit that when the shut-down happened and we were declared to be “non-essential”, it did catch my attention. Then I remembered how many times a year the streets around the church get shut down on Sunday morning to accommodate an event (road races and festivals) that could just as easily have been run on Saturday. I remember when people were longing to know what we think about various important issues of our day. The truth is while we haven’t moved, we do live in a new city and a new world. Then I realized that this moment in time gives us an opportunity to make a choice about our future. When we are allowed to re-gather, we can choose to pretend that nothing has changed and go on with business as usual, or we can rail against the changes and demand that the old Tustin come back, or we can step out into our new city and begin to find our way around, asking God to show us what we need to do to reach our city with His message of love and reconciliation and invite them to join us in this endeavor.
As we enter this season of Pentecost, let us take door number three and step out into the new city in which we find ourselves and ask God to show us how we can be His hands, feet, and voices to the people around us. Let us listen for those nudges of the Holy Spirit pointing us toward people who need a listening ear, or a gentle hug or a comforting presence in their lives. Like the early disciples, God has big plans for us if we are willing to listen and go. Let us take Jesus up on his offer of assistance when He said
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Pastor Steve Ranney