Our Parish Mission Statement
To be witnesses for Jesus Christ locally and to the world according to God's Holy Word. (John 12:32)
Our Parish Vision:
Through the preaching, teaching and living of God's Word, to win souls to Christ and help make disciples
Our Parish Motto
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
Our Parish Theme Hymn
You are the vine, we are the branches,
Keep us abiding in you (repeat)
Then we'll grow in Your love,
then we'll go in your name, that the world will surely know
that You have power to heal and to save
You are the vine, we are the branches,
Keep us abiding in you.
Missioner/Priest - Rev. Dan McMullen
Helmets not Hymnals
On Sunday mornings we may have gotten fairly accustomed to walking into church and either receiving or getting ready our hymnals. Perhaps, though, we should be handing people crash helmets rather than hymn books when they arrive for worship.
This strange, nonetheless powerful image of helmets instead of hymnals comes from the Pulitzer Prize winning Author Annie Dillard’s book Teaching a Stone to Talk, a collection of short nonfiction essays. In her humorous yet moving way, she without hesitation proclaims:
“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.” (Annie Dillard, “An Expedition to the Pole”, Teaching a Stone to Talk. Harper and Row, 1982)
I think that we Western mainline Christians have been guilty of presenting the Christian life as an orderly and fairly ordinary journey. A slow process of growth. You know, “faith development”. Sometimes it no doubt is, and this isn’t a bad thing. However, Scripture also speaks of our relationship with the living Jesus as a series of sudden lurches, of people getting bumped, jerked, and jostled by the God who will not abandon us to our own devices.
You see, although we may not fully grasp or even believe in the power we so “blithely invoke” - the power of the “waking God” - this “waking God” will continue to believe in the power of His people. Especially if His people ‘wake-up’!
Thus Dillard says that we ought to hand people helmets instead of hymn books when they arrive for worship. With the “waking God”, one never knows for sure where they will be by noon.
Why not allow God to wake us up, to bump us around, nudge us into becoming the kind of people we were first created to be? I mean, we tend to allow other things to bump us around. Whether we are being bumped by the new secular society, or bumped by the changing dynamic of our own parish as we continue to learn how to handle the absence of Rev. Wally and Iris’s great ministries. Or, even bumped by the process of repairing an old roof (if the condition of the roof in Apohaqui continues to decline, we might literally need helmets to worship!).
That is my prayer for this new year coming up. As we get comfortable in our own routines and flows, my prayer is that we allow the “waking God” to bump us up a little, and in that, nudge us into becoming His “waking people”. At the very least, it all should be interesting. So why not join us on a Sunday. Yes, we will continue to provide the hymn books. And no, hopefully you won’t actually need a helmet. But nonetheless, expect to be bumped!