Organizations are weird. Churches in particular. The mixed messages we send.
I attend worship with a congregation who laments that there are so few young families and children attending. “Oh, woe is us. We want a vibrant community. Somebody do something! Save us!”
You know those kids you want? They were in the building all week, learning about Habitat for Humanity. All those smiling faces were here, brimming over with laughter and wonder at the world. Squealing with delight during the wheelbarrow races in your sanctuary. Collecting over 500 quarters to donate for a new Habitat home. They ate chicken nuggets and pizza in your fellowship hall. Some of you know this. Some of you answered the call for volunteers: you prepared meals and fed them. Some of you led music and classes or shepherded them through their activities. Their joy became your joy!
We offered to share that joy with the congregation this morning. The sanctuary sported a banner of those kids’ hand prints, drawn and colored by those wiggly, squirmy, wonderful kids that you claim you so want to be in your community. Did you stop to read their names? Did you see the rainbow of colors in their artwork? Did you praise the Lord for bringing them into you building? Some of you did. And more than one of you complained because this banner impeded your shortest route for your social visit with musicians in the chancel.
You know those kids you want in your congregation? On Friday night, they were on your front lawn. In their swimsuits. Dancing and yelling and slipping and sliding at an improvised water park. Squirt guns and super soaker guns. Their young parents joining them in the fun pouring a few cups of water on unsuspecting spouses. Devouring 77 hot dogs while smearing ketchup ear to ear. Nibbling on carrots, then sneaking off to share that orange bounty with neighborhood rabbits. Sporting mustaches from cups of fruit punch and dribbling ice cream sandwiches down their chins. And laughing. And chasing. And running. So full of life and possibility and joy. Like it says on your signs at the edge of town: Come discover the joy.
All those little kids. AND their young parents.
On YOUR front lawn.
Where were you? Not a one of you was there.
Where were you, oh ye who beg to be saved? Where are you? Where will you be when the next call for volunteers goes out?
Wake up, folks. Wake up and save yourself. Wake up and you shall set yourselves free.