For someone who wasn’t going to do much blogging this year (or at least at the beginning of the year) I am probably doing more than I anticipated.
I still need to focus on the financial issues that four years of unemployment have created. Concurrent with the financial issues are spiritual issues about the direction I am supposed to be going with my life and how I am to answer the call from God. (Interesting, I can write and preach about answering and hearing that call but I sometimes wonder if I have actually heard it).
A couple of notes that came across my desk this morning that warrant attention were “Ten Books to Look Out for in 2012” and “Science’s ‘most beautiful theories'”. I think that the first book on the list to look out for (“Ignorance: How it Drives Science”) is going to be interesting to read because, at least from the synopsis, it shows how we seek knowledge. The best part of that seeking is how we grapple with befuddling mysteries and I can see how that fits into a lot of what I want to do this year.
The second story is going to, I think, confuse people. But that is because they don’t understand how theories are developed and how such development has a degree of beauty in it. I can’t help but think of the stories I have read over the past few years that speak of the need for a developing theory to not only explain and predict but also be simple and elegant as well. I think that most people put theories at a level beyond their thinking and comprehension. Granted, the mathematics that is used can be daunting (and sometimes it is beyond my comprehension) but it is the explanation of what the theory means that is what we seek.
If you follow this blog, then you know about our feeding ministry, “Grannie Annie’s Kitchen”. In the vernacular of today, we have suspended operation of the ministry for the moment.
I always find it interesting when a politician running for President announces that he is suspending his run for the nomination. The announcement is always that so and so is quitting the race but they really aren’t quitting. To quit would mean the loss of matching federal funds so you don’t quit running, you simply suspend operation. I find it interesting that those candidates who are running on a platform of less federal involvement and smaller government still want the federal largesse that comes with running for office. I sometimes wish that they would share this money and the money they have raised (see my thoughts about this from last summer – (“The Situation Today”).
Our suspension of the ministry was not done lightly nor are we expecting a continuation of federal funds. The one thing that we didn’t do was go after federal funds for this ministry. Our experience this past summer with federal funds was not a good one; there is often too much administration in the name of oversight and very little in the way of actual support. And there was a conscious decision to do a quality job with this ministry, not use low-cost commodities and cheap materials. Those aren’t the type of things that you get when you seek many grants. And while the place where we get most of the food that we use does offer support for operations like ours, they aren’t willing to support something that isn’t completely local.
I will be honest; we think we can get the funding (for the record, the operation feeds between 20 and 40 each week, depending on the weather, and runs about $700 per month). We have been told that other local churches are going to be involved in the funding so we should be able to make a good of it. And we have people who help, both from our local church as well as from those who come to the ministry. What we don’t have is, and again I have to be honest, the support within the church. I characterize the reason that we suspended the operation as operational in nature. I don’t expect and never expected glowing and complete support from the congregation; to gain that means that we have to show success, success that is often based on the bottom line of economics rather than the good that has been accomplished.
But if we are to turn around the local church (be it mine or yours) and the United Methodist Church, we have to change the minds and hearts of people. There are those who occupy positions in the local church only for the power and glory that it gives them and they lord that over the others in the church. In smaller churches that is enough to kill the church; in bigger churches, the individuals only make the church ill but it is an illness that drives away those who seek Christ.
I realize that a feeding ministry that feeds twenty to forty people each weekend but doesn’t bring any income to the church is not what many people want. But that is not the goal of the ministry; Jesus feed the multitudes because they were hungry.
On the other hand, those who might come to the same church may stay because they know that the Holy Spirit is working in that church and I hope that is what we were doing with our feeding ministry. We have to step away for a while and see if that is the case. If the Spirit is present, we will resume operations shortly. If the Spirit is not there, well, God does work in mysterious and wonderful ways and we will walk in the path that He leads us.