Monday, December 22, 2008

Rays of promise

Three came - then five - then 15. Those numbers seem small, 3, 5, 15 especially when I read about new church starts that begin with 55 in worship the first day. Then I look at the scattered group who are seekers in northern Pennsylvania and the 3, 5, 15 assumes a different perspective.

Though we know that religion and politics are not equal, it is interesting to note that until this year, there has not been an organized Democratic group in our area. And, mostly those who have considered themselves "liberal" in the political realm have not had a voice that speaks for them. So, too, in the religious vein. Until this deliberately liberal church was conceived and supported by two denominations - the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) - there was not a religious voice that offered a place for discussion, worship and community for the deliberately liberal residents of the Tioga County Pennsylvania region.

Ten hours a week, including Sunday mornings, I am the minister to Canoe Camp Church (Disciples). I put in as many hours preparing a sermon for this small community as one would in a much larger congregation. We have been deliberate about sowing seeds of growth for this small, liberal-thinking, but more traditional Christian community. Some Sundays, each of us wonders whether our efforts will bear fruit. Yesterday, amid a very dreary morning, the sun shone in our stained glass window, offering hope.

So, too, with the efforts I make to grow Soul Link United Church of Christ. There are huge rays of sun that shine in just when my (not to be confused with God's) outlook seems most bleak. I wonder whether the liberal religious folk of Tioga County feel that Soul Link offers them this unexpected ray of hope? 3, 5, 15 - small, slow, but full of promise for a voice within the Christian community.

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