I just ran across a picture of my wife and me in Zurich. We had taken a week long vacation in the Swiss Alps and were preparing to fly out the next day. We stayed in a hotel the evening prior to our flight and enjoyed a final dinner there that night. It was a great meal with some good friends to top off a lovely and memorable respite away from home.
The picture reminds me of those days spent driving up and down the Alps and taking daytrip adventures into places I never would have known existed had we not trekked there. It was an enjoyable trip, and we hated for it to end in many ways. The picture is labeled “The Last Dinner in Zurich.”
Sometimes, as a pastor, I look at the church and get that same feeling I had during our last night in Switzerland. I look at how things are, and I wonder if we are in the final moments of the church as we know her. Each time I serve our local congregation the sacrament of Holy Communion, I wonder if this is indeed OUR last supper. I do so because I think in many ways, we (the church universal) have lost our way. I think we have become something we were never intended to become. Maybe more aptly put, we have not become what we ought to have become.
We made that long flight back from Zurich and arrived worn out and tired. You know the feeling. It was worth the trip, but we needed to get back home to rest up so we could get back to work. Has the church done the same thing? Have we been on a vacation from which we need to rest and get back to work?
I don’t think there’s any question we need to get back to work. But as I see it, we’re really tired. We’re tired of being less than we could be. We’re tired of hiding from our calling. We’re tired of plodding through church life as though it were drudgery instead of an adventure. We’ve dumbed down our calling, and we need to get some smarts once again. We’ve fallen, and we can’t get up.
We’re tired in part because we carry around a lot of extra weight. We carry around traditions that no longer serve the purpose they once did. We carry around structures that are cumbersome and get in the way of real ministry. We carry around practices that have grown out of tangential beliefs that never were important to anyone but us. In short, we carry around an exoskeleton that needs to be shed.
Does anyone else feel like me? I’m sure there are many of you. What are you doing about it? What’s on the menu? What’s for dinner?