Volume 35, No. 3
Thank You, Church
(Adapted from Pastor Mike’s report for the Quarterly Church Conference in January)
It is my job to write and say words. But words are not really flowing right now. Words are tools, but often we need artisans to use those tools to chisel away at the surrounding stone in order to pull the beautiful art pieces into view. Without artists, we have lifeless tools and unrealized materials.
At the Presidential Inauguration, I listened to the twenty-two-year-old Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, preach her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” She is an artist. I was struck how she weaved simple and even uninteresting words into a masterpiece of heart, passion, and defiance. She said, “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
With this artist in mind, my words for the church emerged. And those words are: “Thank you, Church.”
Thank you, Church, for being brave this past year. Thank you for not only seeing the light of God in the midst of stormy days, but for being the light of God in a hurting word.
Thank you, Church, for opening your parking lot for anyone to get free COVID testing during the pandemic, seeing hundreds of cars a day and possibly saving hundreds more lives.
Thank you, Church, for opening your doors to the Red Cross, so that when schools and businesses had to shut down, Royal Lane became a spot for the donation of life-giving blood.
Thank you, Church, for hosting food and clothing drives, partnering with North Dallas Shared Ministries and Hope Supply, to get resources to hungry and hurting people.
Thank you, Church, for showing up for difficult racial justice conversations, gearing up for the hard work of anti-racism, and standing up for lives that are oppressed or have even been extinguished.
Thank you, Church, for providing online COVID-19 resources where a mother of two young daughters responded with these words:
“I wanted to quickly reach out to say how helpful your [COVID-19 Resources Webpage] was for my family... We’re not in the Dallas area but I’ve been looking for educational resources & activities for my daughters, since their school is back to 100% remote learning, and they're bummed to miss out on electives like PE and art again… both Erin and Allyson (they’re 2 years apart) are super active! So, we decided to start exercising together and keeping track of what we eat… we’ll see how long this lasts but I was looking for some fun resources and found some great stuff from your page… we found tons of ideas for activities so thank you!”
Thank you, Church, for honoring your financial pledges last year. You gave every single penny that you said you would give for 2020. Even with other revenues, like weddings and the Pumpkin Patch being down due to the pandemic, we ended the year with a $40,000 surplus due to the diligence of leadership and staff in managing expenses. This surplus will be a safety net for the upcoming year as we navigate more pandemic separation. And, through it all, we still met all of our missions giving obligations.
Thank you, Church, for being flexible and learning to do activities, events, and worship online. Organized and institutional Christianity may never be the same and we may not get back to the way things were. So, thank you for being courageous as we’ve navigated uncharted territory together; as we’ve connected our children and youth around bonfires and miniature golf; as we’ve gone to Sunday School on Zoom in our pajamas; as we’ve worshiped and prayed on a computer screen; as we’ve studied the Bible online on Wednesdays nights; and as we’ve attended virtual funerals of people very dear to us.
Thank you, Church, for loving my family as we’ve welcomed a fragile Ford during a pandemic and spent tedious months with him in the hospital. We continue to invest in him in order to get him strong. He can’t wait to meet all of you face to face.
Thank you, Church, for being brave in everything that you did in 2020 and will do in 2021. Thank you for being brave and for being a light… a light at Royal and Hillcrest and in our city.
And so, when words don’t seem to flow and we fear the future, I have found that these simple words, “Thank you, Church,” remind me of God’s love and God’s hope for you, for me, and for this world.
So, thank you, Church.