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Intimacy and Transcendence. And Ministry Fairs.

Every once in a while, the cosmic roulette wheel of “what I happen to be reading” lines up with the ball drop of “what I happen to be wrestling with.” 

Like this past week: What I happened to be reading was a selection of readings taken from Eugene Peterson’s Subversive Spirituality, and it lined up with what I happened to be wrestling with, which was this Sunday’s annual Ministry Fair.

Peterson writes that unfortunately, American culture has all but been reduced to thing and function. “Typically,” he writes, “at the outset, people are delighted to find themselves living in such a culture.  It is wonderful to have all these things coming our way, without having to worry about their nature or purpose.  And it is wonderful to have this incredible freedom to do so much, without bothering about relationships or meaning.  But after a few years of this, our delight diminishes as we find ourselves lonely among the things and bored with our freedom. Our first response is to get more of what brought us delight in the first place: acquire more things, generate more activity.  Get more.  Do more.  After a few years of this, we are genuinely puzzled that we are not any better.”

Sadly, often the church is guilty of falling into this cultural trap. We have “all these things!” “look at all these activities!” we cry. But despite all the things and activities, Peterson points out, there’s “an epidemic of loneliness and boredom,” because what people are really hungry for is not “getting more” and “doing more,” but intimacy and transcendence. 

Here's the good news: the church is uniquely positioned to be a place where you and I can experience intimacy, which Peterson defines as human love, trust and joy. And the church is uniquely positioned to be a place where you and I can experience transcendence, which Peterson defines as divine love and trust and joy.  

Churches are places we come to be reminded, in Peterson’s words, that “we are not ourselves by ourselves. We do not become more human, more ourselves, when we are behind the wheel of a BMW, or, when capped and gowned we acquire another academic degree so we can get a better job and do more and better things.  Instead, we long for a human touch, for someone who knows our name.  We hunger for divine meaning, someone who will bless us.” 

That is what churches are – or should strive to be – all about.

And here’s the challenge: in a church the size that The Falls Church Episcopal already is (and for that matter, in any church larger than say 50 to 75 on a Sunday), that longing and that hunger simply cannot be met on Sunday mornings alone. In a church like ours – already drawing more than 200 people on average each Sunday – the longing for human touch, for someone who knows our name, and our hunger for divine meaning, for someone who will bless us is most likely to be met outside Sunday morning through involvement in a ministry. 

And that is what each and every one of our ministries, represented at the Ministry Fair is – or strives to be – all about.

So if you “long to be in community, experiencing love and trust and joy with others,” if you are “fed up with being evaluated by how much you can contribute, how much you can do,” if you “hunger for communion with God, something beyond the satisfaction of self,” if you are “fed up with being told about God” and yearn to know God…well, The Falls Church Episcopal welcomes you.


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