Posted by: HAT | December 1, 2009

Church Life as Tennis


Not how the church looks during Advent

Sometimes I get carried away, and think the church (or, The Church) has real utopian potential. Then something will happen — as for instance what is happening in my church now, involving changes in staff, complete with issues of legitimacy of process, sensitivity — or lack thereof — to the feelings of the various parties deeply concerned, repercussions for how members of the congregation will feel about the Session, the pastor, the church, showing up on Sunday mornings and keeping up with their pledges in 2010 . . . It’s all real-world stuff. It’s all stuff that we will have to deal with. We hope we will deal with it well, but in all likelihood when we look back on it we will feel we could have done much better. We probably all want to do “the right thing,” but do we know what that is? Well, maybe some of us do, but the ones who do don’t seem to agree, and the rest of us seem fairly uncertain.

So, then I think, if the church (or, The Church) actually does have some utopian potential, it is in a very raw state. We still have a lot of work to do to get the substance of the utopian promise to manifest itself in our life together for more than a moment at a time.

This reminds me of learning to play tennis. We seem still to be at the stage where we spend most of the time running to the far ends of the court chasing the balls we hit out of bounds. Maybe once in a great while we return a serve. Our hearts leap in our chests with excitement — maybe we will actually get a volley going. Then we watch as the ball sails over the fence, and we look at each other with sagging shoulders, trying to remember whose turn it is to go get it.

But I keep hoping being out there, rackets in hand, is grounds for hope.


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