- Posted on Jul 23, 2012
When David, the King, was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” 2 Samuel 7:1
The Israelites historically were a nomadic people. So too was the ministry of Jesus and his disciples–they roamed about from Galilee to Jerusalem and back for three years without a home base. Nomadic people follow the feeding needs of their herds. Jesus and his disciples followed the needs of God’s sheep and lambs. However, even with nomadic people, there is a need for a place to call home. In South Africa, the Bushman were a nomadic tribe; yet, we have records of their lives in caves all over South Africa. In a protected place which was the closest thing to home, the Bushman would make their mark on the rock wall caves of the animals they tracked (the mighty Eland) or the animals that tracked them (the Leopard). The caves sheltered them from the elements and gave them a place to rest until the next journey or hunt. Perhaps those caves were places they visited from year to year, returning to a place of security. It is in humanity to seek security. To find a place to call home. But if we are not careful, our homes become places that keep us from growing, from new life. Our beloved homes become prisons for our souls.
For all of us, we outgrow homes throughout our lives. As babies, we literally outgrow the crib. We outgrow childhood. We move away from home to start our adult lives. This pattern continues throughout our lives. As we move away from home as young adults, we begin to structure our own sense of home. This adult home bit by bit as well–as children, beloved pets, partners move out or move on. But the less nomadic life that we live makes it hard to move on. We amass possessions and routines and ways of being. Without being forced to move with the herd to the next place, we no longer know what it is to travel light. To only take one staff, a tunic, and one pair of sandles for the journey.
The Episcopal Church, our beloved home in Christ, is grappeling with what it means to be the church in the 21st century. Our ways—worship times, Christian formation, budgets and communication style–is becoming old and outdated in today’s culture. In many ways, we are losing track of our herd, God’s sheep and the lambs. At General Convention, the only resolution we passed unanimously said in part:
This General Convention believes the Holy Spirit is urging The Episcopal Church to reimagine itself, so that, grounded in our rich heritage and yet open to our creative future, we may more faithfully:
- Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- Teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- Respond to human need by loving service
- Seek to transform unjust structures of society
- Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
As part of this acclamation, a Task Force was set up to work to bring a plan to the next General Convention to “reform the Church’s structures, governance, and administration.” And the catch phrase for the entire convention was being “nimble.”
What this says to me in institutional church-speak is that we as the Episcopal Church know it is time to MOVE. It is time to get out on the road and follow the sheep. For the herds are moving in a different direction than we are used to seeing. The climate is changing. We must travel light and be ready to move with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
We the Church must be ready to move. We as Memorial must be ready to move. Each of us—as a child of God–must be ready to move. Are you a nimble nomad? What keeps you from living into that role? I’m ready to pack light and do some walking!