Already There

I’m not a fan of when people say, “We’re getting there!” That usually indicates that wherever “we” are is inadequate, or that the finish line is still faaaaroff (it also assumes that we know where this magical finish line is). Whenever someone has said, “You’re getting there” to me, it was in context of the weakest form of generic encouragement possible (usually accompanied by a lazy shoulder pat and a faint smile). As you can tell: I’m not a fan.

The idea of inadequacy is a very real feeling most of us share. It’s not a new thing:  the disciples felt it. Before them Moses certainly felt it, and told God so inasmuch as his stutter would allow. But the pervasiveness of a thing does not suggest its truth. For the disciples were wrong, and Moses was wrong BIG TIME. Guess what? That feeling you have (every blue moon, right?) is wrong too. Everything we need we already have. That’s not fluffy, pastoral truth: that’s God’s truth and is the reality of being created in the image of a divine.

You can do it. That’s the message of Jesus during his “farewell discourse” with the disciples in John 17; or his issuing of the “Great Commission” to them in Matthew 28; or when the Holy Spirit spreads like wildfire at Pentecost in Acts 2; or when Abraham sets out to do the unimaginable in Genesis 22; or finally, Paul speaking to the capabilities of the Roman believers in Romans 8.  There’s a common thread in these 5 scriptures (and the 5 sermons you just heard me preach on them): they all deal with the delicate tension of living in a world that is so unlike God, the frailty of our psychological and emotional being, and the ways God calls us forth anyway.  It’s not what you have that matters (remember: you already have everything you need); it’s what you believe you have.  Understanding capability is a matter of Faith.

Sometimes people will ask to speak discreetly with me, where they’ll tell me how tough they know my job is as pastor of University Church.  They tell me what I need and what I don’t have, and then they say, “But hey” (obligatory shoulder pat) “We’re getting there!” And I tell them, “Hey” (removes hand from shoulder) “We’re closer than you think…” That’s because we’re already there.

There’s an Exodus narrative (getting to a place) and a Reconstruction narrative (already at a place). The people of Moses are headed somewhere:  the people of Isaiah and Jeremiah have made it, but need to do some things differently, again, or for the first time. A lot has happened in 8 months at UChurch, but we’re not in Exodus — we’re in Evaluation. This church was very much a Church when I arrived, but with a couple new changes and some fresh energy, we’re upgrading to be more pronounced in the 21st Century. I’m excited about the present and the possibilities, aren’t you?

Allen Reynolds has been serving as our summer intern, and his final Sunday is July 24. Come and see him preach with an enthusiasm equal to his work ethic over these six weeks.

Youth Sunday is July 31. Yep, already. Worship led entirely by Those-Who-Understand-Twitter-and-Facebook.

We have recently ratified ourselves as an “Immigrant Welcoming Congregation.” We already were, but it’s on paper now as we join the New Sanctuary Movement.

We are hosting a Summer Photography program, funded by the City of Chicago Department of Family and Social Services. It’s a 4-week program, from July 11-August 5. Ten young people are learning about themselves, the world, and art, all through the camera lens.

That sounds like a church that’s already there.

Serve God and Stay Cool!!!

—Pastor Julian