Sometimes a preacher wonders, “Dear God, are we really a good church or are we kidding ourselves?” One of the genuine blessings of the losses we are about to experience is that we will have ample opportunity to learn just how healthy, how strong, how holy our church really is. We have prospered wonderfully for years, but now we are about to enter a time of stripping away. Unless God steps in at the last minute, all our church buildings and all our church’s financial resources will be stripped from us. We will have nothing – nothing except God and ourselves. We will have to start all over again.
I want you to join me in asking God to help us to be ready for this. “Being ready” means being in right relationship with God and with everyone else, to the best of our ability – broken relationships to be restored, sins repented of, wrongs made right. If there is sin in the camp, the victory will not be won (Joshua 7:1-26 – the sin of Achan). God will not ever fail us but we will fail God if we are tolerating any idols in our lives. I’ve had to examine my own heart in several matters personally in order to prepare for what is ahead.
Soon we will have no fixed Sunday address and worship will move about as we seek a new home. Soon the vestry will be asking us to dig deeply and give more generously then we ever have in order to carry on ministries, support the missionaries and the staff, pay the rental fees. Such a sudden transition from “abundance” to “nothing” is so great a stripping away for us, such an extreme overturning of our church life, the starkness of it all is so great, that I can only conclude God has to be “in this” – it has to be that He is “up to something” big in our lives.
What will happen?
Friends, I believe deeply that we are in fact about to enter a precious time of testing in which we will, in actuality, be found faithful. We will “grow up in Christ” in many ways. The scriptures will speak to us with fresh meaning and our prayer life will become more fervent. Our community will become much more precious. I believe our worship will become not only more joyful but more mature. Our perspective about the kingdom of God, I believe, will change dramatically and so will our priorities. We will change.
The Rev. Dr. John Yates II
Rector, The Falls Church