Winter Message by Rev. Robb W. Shoaf and Pastor Schuyler Berdan
The question we ask and are asked throughout our youth is, “What do you ‘wannabe’ when you grow up? What do I ‘wannabe’ when I grow up?” You would think this question has a simple answer. At least that is usually what we get; a fireman, a doctor, a teacher, a nurse. Yet, I think it is a question we ask all our lives and it is certainly a question the Church struggles with.
Over the past 4 decades I have sensed the Church isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. I was impressed with a subtle approach in The Igniting Ministry campaign almost 30 years ago. There were radio spots and television ads that targeted those who perhaps had little or no faith, those seeking something but perhaps not sure what. After a while gears shifted (too soon I believed) and we as United Methodists defined our purpose as Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. So, now we use language for those “inside” the Church rather than those outside? And yet, the percentage of Americans identifying as outside; “none” or “atheist” is growing faster while those inside are declining.
We are now addressing the issues gay marriage and ordination which is long overdue. Yet, unlike The Civil Rights movement, the Church is not on the frontline as it was 50 years ago but following behind; where the courts identify Gay marriage as a civil right. We are behind following rather than leading. At least we are moving ahead.
So we continue to ask, “What do we ‘wannabe’?” It is a question we continue to wrestle with both inside and outside the church walls. I have hope because the very question of who we want to be sets us on a journey of discovery. My prayer is that we move ahead together.
Grace and Peace, Robb
YouTube’s website launched when I was a senior in high school, and since then, millions of videos have been added to the library ranging from cooking shows, to review videos, to music videos. It has really become an art. Cut to 2019, where technology allows us to manipulate just about any reality into whatever we want it to be. A few days ago, a friend tried to cheer me up by showing me a video that was a compilation montage of the singer Beyoncé falling on stage.
I’ve never found these videos funny, even though the people in these falling montages never really get hurt. For some people seeing someone who is so highly regarded, be at a moment of weakness gives them delight, and I’m sure we can all think of someone in our lives who is just waiting for us to fall so they can snicker at our distress.
However, I looked at it a totally different way. Beyoncé was in front of my eyes, tripping and falling over and over and over again, and yet she’s at the top of the world. She didn’t let one fall stop her let alone a plethora of trips and stumbles. She laughs it off and continues to wow the crowd with her amazing vocals, and I’m sure even if she saw the video montage of her falls, it wouldn’t affect her doing her best.
We all stumble on things in our life, moments of vulnerability, and moments of weakness. Even when we have God’s light shining the path in front of us, we can fall. No matter who you may trip and stumble, no matter what obstacles you face (even when you can clearly see them sometimes,) remember that we have a safety net in God’s amazing grace. Get back up! Dust yourself off and show the world that you too are a Beyoncé and nothing is going to keep you down.