You may sigh a little. You may tire of the redundancy. But I am unapologetic. The modern form of church now prevalent for the past 70 years is on life support. We are in the midst of unprecedented tectonic shifts, which history tells us are presently due 500 years post the Reformation. And so we must become midwives to what the Spirit is birthing. We must rethink, innovate and co-create something new.
And yet all transformation requires a death, a loss of what has been, a letting go. This is not easy work. This is not comfortable work. This is neither for the faint of heart or the indifferent. Rather, it requires a daring tenacity and a robust faith. A willingness to risk and to fail and to iterate.
It is for the bold and the audacious who are just foolish enough to believe that there is a better way--
To live as a beloved community into the dare of the gospel.
And yet, this is anything but idyllic. Rather, it is mundane. It is gritty. It is sometimes so unspectacular that we wonder if anything worthwhile is happening at all. There are conflicts and offenses, differences and apathies, disappointments and betrayals. We grow weary, disheartened, sure that we are being taken advantage of, sure of the futility of our endeavors. We are human, both glorious and inane.
And yet death comes before life. The seed dies before the new tender shoot emerges from the earth. This is the way of Lent. This is the way of the cross. This is the way of birthing. This is the way of dying.
This is where the mystery of the tomb coalesces with the miracle of the womb.
And so as we consider our impending death, what is it that we need to surrender? What is it that needs to die? What is it that we need to let go of? And as we journey together with community fasting and prayer, what collectively is it that we need to give up?
Is it our comfort? Our need for success? The ways in which we want what we want when we want it? Our individualism and our independence?
Is it our reluctance to commit or to be inconvenienced? Our prejudices? Our resentments? Our fear? Our jealousies? Our insecurities? Our wounds? Our self-hate?
Or is it our need to please others? Our need to be validated? Our need to be important? Our security? Our need for control? Our power? Our privilege? Our possessions?
What is it that needs to die?
Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. So the saying goes. But Jesus promises us that as we lose the striving and scarcity of our own small lives, we will enter the expansiveness of His full and abundant life. [Matthew 16:25]
And as a faith community, I believe this is also true. Though we must not diminish the cost, the dream awaits us. For as we die to our independence and the comfort of our default ways of "going" to church, we will enter the extravagance of the beautifully diverse community living together to "be" the church, rooted in God's Dream for us and our neighborhoods.
And so my prayer this week is that we would sit with the question, What is it that needs to die? And that we would enter the paradox of the tomb, of death, surrender, and letting go, hopeful that in time from the womb of our deepest desires, new life will emerge.
By Jessica Ketola