Forever Reaching Forward
The Reverend Eric Long
From the moment Jesus stretched forth his hands in blessing to his disciples and told them, in turn, to do the same to others, the Church has reached forward from one generation to the next. I love this image of two millennia of Jesus-followers extending their arms of love to the future, a line of faithful disciples that finally grabs hold of you and me. This stretch to God’s future now calls us to bestow the blessing of the ages on those who come after us.
At St. John’s we have received a double inheritance. This holy place was entrusted to our care by people who built it during an economic crisis before there was such a thing as a car. They sang praises here during The Great Depression, found hope together during two world wars, struggled toward the right during The Civil Rights Movement. They were faithful and in need of grace. They laughed and cried. They were disciples. And they entrusted us with the work of their hands and the legacy of their Christian hope, made tangible in this place we now call home, St. John’s.
Now is our time. God has laid a beautiful challenge before us to ensure future generations will worship and serve at this corner of Jefferson and Elm. Today’s religious landscape makes this daunting, as somewhere around 10,000 churches close across America each year, including the very one where Shelley and I became Episcopalians. Very often, it is the cost of maintaining aging buildings that is the issue. Maintenance is valued over mission, and a death spiral of sorts occurs. This will not be the trajectory of St. John’s.
God’s mission must be prioritized over buildings. Yet when the building is the hub, the shared space for mission, in the very heart of a city, that space is holy and crucial to the work of Christ. St. John’s shares and gives, and a primary way we do so is by being gracious with our centrally located church.
To find a means to ensure our doors are perpetually open to those who come after us is a priority, a call, and among the most exciting challenges we can engage. This campaign is about lovingly stretching our hands forward in order to hand this precious hub of worship, service, and care to generations not yet born.
Join us in reaching out our arms of love in this tangible, brick and mortar way.