Hello friends! Happy summer!
When I was a kid, I really liked building sandcastles. I have fond memories of long summer hours at the local beach playing with my brothers, friends, and other local kids. Sometimes I would be alone while building, shaping with my hands, scavenging for cool rocks, accepting the occasional piece of seaweed from a friendly toddler. Other times the sandcastle operation was the focus of all us kids on the beach. One group of siblings contributed neon colored plastic forms. Another family had small sand shovels and rakes. Usually, one of the more experienced kids would show the younger ones how to get the consistency of the sand just right, not too dry, not too wet, so the structure would hold. At least one kid just wanted to see how far down she could dig. Other kids were really interested in the overall design – we need a tower here, how about a moat over there, we can make a pretty pattern like this!
At the end of the afternoon, whether the sand fortress was a solo endeavor, or a group effort, we would say our goodbyes, delighting in our work in that moment, knowing that by the time we returned, the structure would almost certainly be gone. Even though we knew that what we were building was not going to be permanent, it was still worth the effort. Even though we did not always know how to implement our ideas or create the castle we had in our mind, we delighted in experimenting. Even though we didn’t always agree on the details, we could agree on the unstated common goals of having fun, enjoying each other’s company, sharing any and all snacks that were offered by caregivers, and making something AWESOME!
I wonder if we can think about our work as church like sandcastle building. Sometimes we are working on our own. Much of the time we are working with family, neighbors, & friendly (hopefully) strangers. We try to have fun, simply enjoy each other’s company, and experiment to see what might happen. We each have different things to offer to the building efforts and we don’t always agree on the specific details, but we connect in the greater goals. We are bonded in the bigger mission. I’m glad we share snacks too : )
And the thing about a beach is that it is always changing. Even lake beaches, which do not have tides, are affected by waves, sun, rain, wind, animals, people, and time. We might try some erosion prevention strategies, we might plant or uproot trees, we might put up a sign, but despite our best, even loving efforts to keep a beach just as we envision it, it will change.
Can we look at the work we do as church like we looked at our sand creations when we were kids? Knowing full well that what we build won’t be permanent, but trusting it’s still worth the effort? Knowing full well that we won’t always know how to create what we see in our minds, but getting excited about experimenting and failing and trying again as we figure it out? Can we dig a little deeper and press on with the bigger goals?
I am learning that there have been, and will always be, people longing to connect, wishing to experience God, discerning answers, and seeking healing and wholeness. How the connections are made, where the experience of God happens, when light bulb moments occur, and who can help restore what has been broken are always in flux. The beach of ministry is always changing. It’s hard work, really hard work, to show up each day and to keep building something awesome. Thank God for the ones who say yes along side us, thank God for grace when we fail, and thank God for the snacks.
-Pastor Megan : )
Pastor Megan finds that she rarely has all the right answers, but tries to help her community ask better questions.