Posted by: smstrouse | October 20, 2012

I’m Changing My Name to Zito

I’m changing my name to Barry Zito.  I figure that’s the only way I’m going to get any attention this Sunday.  Zito pulled the Giants back from a season-ender Friday night, forcing the Cardinals back to San Francisco for Game 6.  On Sunday.  At 4:30 our time.  And I do mean our time.  Our church service is at 5:00 pm.

You can see the problem.  First of all there will be the bridge traffic to contend with.  All those people heading into the city – to AT&T Park.  If only a small percentage would make their way out to the northern panhandle (NOPA), to First United!

Ah, but a small percentage will.  No way we’ll have the packed church we had last week for our Service of Healing and Reconciliation.  Not that I expected we would; we are a small congregation.  But this week, I’m betting we’ll be even smaller than usual. AT&T and ESPN call.

But the reality is that there are a lot of things that call. Sunday is not the Christian sabbath it once was.  Going to church is one choice among a myriad of options, not only of leisure activities, but of work demands, family obligations, and the need for just a bit of down time.

As a member of the rat race, I get it.  As a pastor, I wonder.  What will the church become in the midst of this 21st century time crunch?  I see the dilemma of people who crave community, who want a spiritual component in their lives, a place to ask the questions about the meaning of it all.  The church is that place – at least we try to be.  But how can we provide that place of refuge, that space of renewal?  How can we hold the needs and gifts of a people (who are scattered around the Bay area most of the time) in a big enough basket to make a difference in their lives – and in the world?

These are questions I wonder about.  But I also know this: First United, small as we are, does make a difference in the world.  Last week’s service was a heartening affirmation of the stand made by the congregation and its pastor years ago and its part in the evolution of the whole ELCA.  So don’t dis the little congregations!

We’ll keep on wrestling with these questions of how to be the church in the 21st century.  We’ll be there on Sunday at 5:00 for whoever shows up.  Someone will surely be providing updates on the game, which is perfectly OK.  Who knows – since I’m changing my name to Barry Zito, maybe I’ll pitch a perfect sermon.

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