Phone: (225) 926.2291 8470 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806
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Always Celebrating: The celebration points of our church are obvious: the energy and presence of our children and youth, our growing multi-culturalism, a growing core of young adults, our role in interfaith work, the joy of worship with a variety of musical offerings and liturgical creations, the annual auction, wonderful dinners, quiet sharing in Branches groups, caring of one to another, and holding each other accountable. Increasingly, our members are finding meaningful social justice work in and through our church, especially through our membership in Together Baton Rouge (TBR). In the organization of TBR, participation from members of our church is high profile and deeply appreciated. Like any authentic gift, engagement with others is mutually beneficial. Church member Jule Assercq said on the day she received a citizenship award from TBR, “I have never before had such a sense of community and a sense of the possibilities that can come to fruition if we work together.”
When less is not more. I reflect on a past era when “one minute managing” was the craze in the business world and I still express gratitude that we survived that ideology, at least as far as ministry is concerned. There is no “one-minute-managing” in walking with people, talking with people, making an emotionally painful trip to the cemetery or hospital –to name but a few situations in which the clock stands still or at least where time is put in proper perspective. “Less is more,” is another shibboleth.
I offer the following recommendation: We need more conversation, not less, concerning some ambitious plans for our church, no matter how visionary they appear to be. I thought about this after the congregational meeting on Sunday, May 20, and realized that it will be wise to match our trust level in each other with necessary time to digest, converse, and listen to one another before we lift a shovel of earth to do anything.
Let’s continue the conversations because we surely need to take time for discernment. There will be several votes, like the recent vote to conduct a feasibility study, before the leadership launches the remaining elements of the strategic plan. Taking time to talk is what we have done in past projects. Less conversation is not more. We will need more.
Something’s funny about the obsession with happiness. Writing in a column for Newsweek, Julia Baird, said, “Do we all want daisies-in-the-meadow happiness, or a less chirpy, quieter contentment? Or, do we want to suck greedily on life’s marrow, like Jack Kerouac, to ‘burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars’? The most inspiring people are those least obsessed with their own happiness . . . .” (Julia Baird, “Positively Downbeat: Sometimes Happiness Isn’t Everything,” Newsweek, 10-5-2009, p. 26, emphasis mine) The Dalai Lama comes to mind. Those who work for Doctors Without Borders come to mind. A good many people in our church come to mind. So, last month another twenty-something American became a multi-billionaire and he may be the happiest of all human beings on the planet, but people in good churches know that glee is short-lived. People in a good church know that a meaningful life cannot be purchased, borrowed, stolen, or engineered; nor is it secured in any purse. I won’t say a meaningful life is a precious commodity for it is no commodity. I’ll say it is precious.