Volume 34, No. 20
Canoeing the Mountains
I read a book last year called Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory. Rev. Tod Bolsinger reviewed the exploration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and their search for a water route to the Pacific Ocean. But we know from history, while they had prepared to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean, instead they found themselves in the Rocky Mountains. Lewis and Clark and their expedition team were at an insurmountable impasse. Their canoes and their maps would not help them. And so, they had to adapt. They couldn’t do what they did best, travel by canoe. They couldn’t canoe the mountains.
You see, Lewis and Clark were experts at river rafting and they came face to face with a set of mountains that were bigger than their imagination could fathom. And it’s the same for us. We are doing church and staying connected in ways we couldn’t have anticipated. Our old ways of doing church seem to be of little use when the barriers of the world seem large and looming. If we’re going to scale the mountains of this COVID existence, racial unrest reality, and polarized world, we need to leave behind canoes and find new navigational tools.
It’s not going to do us any good to paddle harder. We need to adapt. And the key to adaptation begins with going back to our deepest core values, which, as Royal Lane Baptist Church, is loving God, loving our neighbors, and loving ourselves. These values will carry us as we move through another stewardship season and pledge our tithes for 2021. These values will guide us as we celebrate Reformation Sunday, the day Martin Luther protested the abuses of the Church and demanded a better way. These values will hold us as we remember all of the saints who have gone on to glory during the pandemic including Ed Bright, Jo Ferguson, Ray Vickrey, and Doug Leinneweber. These values will give us hope as we notice the star and travel to the manger by a totally different route this year. These values will give us the strength to explore new terrain and do so with certainty. Although Lewis and Clark could have stopped in failure, they chose to move ahead in confidence in order to find a whole new world. It hasn’t been easy for Royal Lane Baptist Church these past seven months, but we have traversed this new landscape together through service and in love.
How have we boldly explored uncharted territory? We have helped to relieve loneliness, anxiety, and stress. We’ve made food runs for families, phone calls to shut-ins, and Zoom check-ins with friends. We’ve written letters and sent emails. We’ve prayed for our congregation and shared space with those in need. We’ve been patient with new ways to worship and learn. We’ve accomplished benevolence work through Everyone Eats, implemented free COVID testing, provided snacks to Foster Elementary school teachers, and in our newest project, fed the city with 700 sack lunches. We’ve been proactive in taking a stand with our black siblings. We’ve found new ways to be the church online in a physically distant reality. And we’ve all stepped up with our Stewardship campaign so far this year with our time, talents, and treasures so that we can continue to be bound to one another in hope and love.
I know it feels as if we can’t do enough to ease the pain in our congregation and our city. It often feels as if the viruses of hurt, hate, and helplessness are spreading. But I believe God is manifesting God’s self in new and beautiful ways to powerfully change our world… and we have served, worked, planned, navigated, and explored in order to bring God’s beloved community to fruition.
Well done, servants and saints. Well done, explorers!