By Ben Smith
Clouds are beginning to clear from the dark skies of winter. Blowing through on a fresh south wind, they brush aside shivering for warm glimpses of future days. Branches empty of life will soon be filled with buds for the coming season, holding within them what is yet to come. Small, insignificant twigs lay on the ground, waiting to be the foundations of a home for a young bird who is preparing the only way she knows how. She hasn’t done it before, yet innate within her is the sense that she is ready. Twig by twig, stick by stick, she collects the components of what will eventually make up the foundations for another life. She doesn’t know what lies ahead, yet she prepares, trusting that the world around her will support her as it did her ancestors. There are fewer trees than before, and birds too, but she knows that her task in life is to sing her song and to help others sing theirs.
The numbers aren’t good. Church affiliation is decreasing, church buildings are closing and fewer people are turning to the Christian faith to find meaning in their lives. This leaves us thinking about the future, and questioning how we can possibly make a difference when we are slowly in decline. We search for answers about why the next generation didn’t connect with our message, and how something so significant in our own lives has not engaged with the wider community. Yet, we believe.
We believe that every starfish makes a difference. We believe that each interaction with another being is an opportunity to show God’s love in action. We believe that each person is worthy of love, and each a child a God. We believe that we are custodians of this earth, and that this role should not be taken lightly, rather as a responsibility to nurture nature the best we can for the future. We believe where there are two or three gathered, so is the Spirit.
Can you imagine if Jesus said “Sorry boys, but there are only 13 of us and it’s a pretty tough world out there, we are simply too small to accomplish anything”? He could have. No one would have blamed him either with the pressure he was under. But, he believed.
I believe there is so much more that we can give to the community. We have a message to share with people that could change their life – that they are worthy and loved. We can show people that there is a difference with how the world sees them to how God sees them - that we are all children of God and have incredible value in the world around us. I don’t believe Jesus called us to sit down and be apathetic, rather challenged us to be with people in uncomfortable places and not stay still reminiscing of the ‘good ol’ days’.
Our call is to live Christ’s mission, to continue to build the kingdom from the seemingly insignificant twigs that lie around us into the branches of the unknown, the only way we know how. So, I prepare. It’s like I’ve been collecting sticks and twigs for the past few years, not really knowing what I was building. Yet, somewhere inside my heart there has been a sense that what I was doing will build new life for the church. I'm beginning to put greater faith that the innate Spirit within me is guiding us into a future blessed with God's presence. How will you prepare?