Open, Part II

August 24, 2017

Last Sunday afternoon, Elmhurst CRC threw an awesome party. There were games, live music, tons of kids, dozens of gallons of root beer consumed. It was very clear: our church is open for business.

In the midst of the fun, many adults sported gray t-shirts of dubious design. It took me awhile to catch on that my face was plastered on the back of these matching shirts! After pushing through feeling aghast at the sheer number of my faces walking around the parking lot, I ​cracked a smile, had a laugh at my own expense, and managed to read the texImWithGreggTShirtst below the picture: “I’m with Gregg…

No doubt, there is some humor and irony in those three words, borrowed from the 2016 Clinton campaign, but they are also beautiful, showing genuine support, mutual respect and deference between those of us who are blessed to serve the Church and work on the same team together.

I’m doing my best to be “open” on a number of levels these days, and I’m delighted that many folks are self-consciously opting to come along for the ride. Let me name just a few types of the “openness” that our staff is trying on for size. Maybe you’ll want to join in, too.

Open-MINDED: Kids are full-on back in school. Our staff is trying on some news patterns and routines. Personally, I’ve got a lot to learn about this Lead Pastoring thing. To paraphrase the original Calvinist: We’re all just students in God’s school. It’s such a relief to acknowledge that we’re ALL always learning and that we’ll never have it all figured out.

Open-HEARTED: It’s one thing to be open to new information. It’s quite another to be open to new experiences. This past Monday offered an opportunity to experience an epic solar eclipse. Though the amount of cloudiness in Chicagoland blurred the celestial majesty, our staff did our best to be awed at the mind-boggling scope and well-coordinated steps of the cosmic dance. On a very practical level, our Executive Director brought his welding helmet in lieu of standard cheap-o eclipse glasses--quite an improvement if you ever have the opportunity!

Open-for-FUN: As we heard in last Sunday’s sermon from our search consultant Sam Hamstra, the Gospel of Jesus is meant to be fun. It’s THE original Good News after all. When’s the last time the Bible made you laugh out loud? I’m convinced that when most of our “fun” happens through things that we click or control, we are actually having less fun. Surprise and lack of control are key ingredients in the capacity for having fun.

Open-ARMS: I’m challenging myself to expand the levels of hospitality, time and affection that I’m willing to share with others. Our staff is taking the simple step of training together to become entry-level baristas. We want to be able to offer everyone we meet with on Monday through Friday a cold glass of water, a warm cup of tea, or a specialty coffee made with our own two hands. Open arms and hands don’t have to be too fancy. I’m working on the theory that making somebody a coffee is the 21st-century equivalent of a 1st-century foot washing.

The main entrance of our church building is meant to remind us of God’s posture of openness towards the world. Perhaps he is OpenArmswhispering to you to follow his lead and put into practice one of these levels of openness.

Pastor Gregg

Next Houston, we have a problem.