|"Air conditioning units outside a building" |
Some rights reserved CC BY-SA 4.0 by Ildar Sagdejev. Source: WikiCommons
In the parish I serve, as soon as things start heating up outside, there's a conversation that starts heating up inside as well: the air conditioning. Worshiping in an old church building, in a humid locale, without air ducts (thus preventing central air), with 2 (inadequate) wall units... any given Sunday I hear how the space is simultaneously too hot, too cold, too stuffy, and too breezy (depending on which uncomfortable wooden pew you sit).
The gist is this: people just want to be comfortable. They want to come and sit in their comfortable pew and sing to comfortable hymns and hear a comfortable sermon and engage in comfortable conversation and have a comfortable experience.
The challenge is this: the church - the body of Christ living its part in God's mission for the world - isn't always meant to be "comfortable." A great mentor of mine taught me that great liturgy will comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. (And for those who are afflicted, I hope and pray that they find the spiritual comfort of Christ's love in and through the body of Christ, the church.)
For those who are not afflicted, however, the church building should serve as more than a climate-controlled spiritual warehouse (or worse, a 'comfortable Sunday social club'): it should be the home to (pardon the pun) HEIR conditioning.
WE are those heirs. Jesus declared us as God's children and heirs of God's Kingdom. There is no greater gift.
So... how are we conditioning ourselves as heirs? Do we take this heritage seriously? How are we engaging with our community? How are we living the mission? How are we keeping the church as a movement (not a monument)? How are we living our baptismal vows?
And taking it onward; how are we teaching our heirs - our children, our grandchildren, our godchildren? The literal generations that follow us, are dependent on us to learn the good news of Jesus Christ. If we don't teach them our Christian heritage, who will? So how are you teaching the faith? Have you taught our tradition? How have you shared the love of Jesus with the future generation?
I fear that if we are not taking this ongoing conditioning seriously, we will forget how. We will no longer comprehend its significance. We will lapse in our most basic faith experience. Just as we exercise our bodies for physical conditioning, we need to exercise our faith for spiritual - heir - conditioning.
How is the heir conditioning today?