If I have seemed distracted, lately, perhaps it is because I have been startled by the beauty of a world in motion. Yesterday, it seems, we were trapped in the heavy humidity of August in Pennsylvania; this week there is an edge to the morning cold, and I noticed the edge of a dark red seeping into the treeline on 76 just this week. In the evenings, I am distracted by the silent bats charging through the sky as they scoop up the tarrying mosquitos in the dusky light.
Everywhere I look, it seems, I am reminded that nothing stays the same. Change is the constant that follows us through this life; it is just a matter of whether we have the eyes to see. Even the church is not exempt—we look around our pews, and the people who sit amongst us are different than they were. It isn’t just us— recent studies by the Pew Charitable Trust and Barna Foundation confirm that whole generations seem to be choosing not to be in the pews at all.
Nature, the church, Scripture, all conspire to remind us that the world does not stand still. It moves. And our call, as disciples, is to move with it. There is a reason, I think, that Jesus’ model of discipleship is to “follow me.” Faithfulness rarely looks like staying in one place. It more often looks like getting up and exploring the world, paying attention to where God might be at work, and then going there. Even if that makes us uncomfortable.
I know, I know. That sounds like a lot of work. But I think it may be as simple as being Christ where we are. Allowing ourselves to be distracted by the world that is right there in front of us, and looking at our world, full of neighbors and strangers, with the eyes of the Beloved. Giving ourselves permission to practice Christ-like love in our communities, our grocery stores, our libraries, our schools. Because we are already out in the world, friends. The trick is to see it as God does.
If you are up for the challenge, I encourage you to join me in this holy work. And if you do, let me know what you see. Perhaps we can follow Christ together.