Just today I answered a hand-written letter from a member in a church I served a long time ago. He is well into his eighties now. He moved south for the good weather and is glad for that. But what he shared was about the closing of his church there in paradise. Everything is not perfect even in paradise.
My friend could never understand why this little church couldn’t make it, couldn’t thrive, seemed destined for such an end as this. His memory of churches earlier in his life included the boom times of the 50s when you opened the church door and people flooded in. It was the social thing to do, whether you had a heart warming experience or not. Not anymore.
I felt for him. And I tried to explain some of the many factors that have contributed to this strange new world. We’re never going back, I said. It’s first century Christian faith for all of us. We’re no longer a part of empire. That’s not such a bad thing if you can get over it.
He will never read this blog. Nor will he see the tweet that reminds people the blog was posted. He doesn’t even have email. My communication with him included a smooth envelope that I addressed by hand, licked a stamp and placed it in the upper right hand corner. It’s been a long time since I licked a stamp.
This is indeed a strange new world with remnants of the old one holding on like stowaways in the hold of our plane. We tweet and Skype and monitor our stock transactions online anytime. The 24/7 vapid news channels bleat on. And yet, a man in Florida writes me a letter after his church closes and I send one back to him. We sometimes call the friend by phone instead of flashing an email. A few even stop to chat in the grocery store aisle. It’s all of this wrapped into one ball of twine. But just try to find a loose end so you can unroll it. Can you even find one?