In the mid 1990’s Jonathan Larson, a talented playwright, wrote and produced a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical called Rent. The musical is loosely based on Puccini’s opera La boheme and is set in the Alphabet City section of New York. It follows the lives of eight main characters as they struggle with poverty, homelessness, HIV-AIDS, love, and dying.
One of the hugely successful songs in Rent is a song entitled Seasons of Love. This song asks the question, “How do you measure a year of life, 525,600 minutes. How do you measure the life of a woman or a man? Is it in days, sunsets, cups of coffee, miles traveled, good decisions or bad? Is it in your successes or failures, tears cried, laughter shared?” Rent is a wonderful play and excellent movie that asks us to share a year, 525,600 minutes, in the lives of people we come to love and care about.
We are standing at the beginning of a new calendar year. The year 2014, for better or worse, is behind us. I know one parishioner who is going to gather all the 2014 calendars they can find, have a bonfire burning them all, and close out the year with a party involving food and drink. Good riddance to a bad year is their motto.
We cannot go back and change the past; we can only learn from it. We can build on our successes and make plans and promises not to make the same mistakes as the past. It is human nature to try and return to the past. We remember fondly simpler times with family, a time when people had different values and characters. We remember huge numbers of children in Sunday school (the average number of children in a family in the 1950/60’s was four, not 1.7 as it is today), packed churches (society expected you to be in church and nothing else was open) and Memorial Day parades. We long to return to a day when it was safe to leave the house open, the church unlocked, and children roaming the neighborhood all day safe and free. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in today, nor is it likely we will ever return to those days.
So, what can we do? We can begin with our own lives. Yes, church attendance is down, because many now look at church as one of several options in which they can invest their weekend time. For Christians, Sunday worship is not an option. Before departing this earth, Christ commanded that we gather weekly, share scripture and participate in the Eucharist. If we do nothing else on the weekend, we should attend church on Sunday morning. Then we build our time schedule on other true options.
Next we can be much better at inviting and bringing others to church. I am sure many people have invited friends and family to sporting events, theater, meals, trips to the zoo, shopping, but rarely do people invite the those same friends to church. I won’t comment on my sermons, but we have a beautiful Liturgy, wonderful choir, excellent Christian Education program, super coffee hour, and warm welcoming people. This is a great place to bring people and share with them all that is important to us. Make an appointment to pick up your family and friends, bring them to St. David’s, introduce to them to the great people here, sit with them in church, and with my help and that of Rev. Carol, we will be sure they understand where we are in the Liturgy and which book to use.
Finally, there is so much we can each do to help our brothers, sisters, and neighbors in need. We can help with tutoring a student at Elmwood School right next door. There are students crying out for some one-on-one help and attention. We can help out at the Sr. World Luncheon once a month, It does not cost a dime to help set up, fix food and clean up and I know the kitchen staff would love the help. See Pearl Brooks or Nancy Burns with questions. You could help with feeding the poor downtown, you could volunteer time at either Christian Services in their offices on Holmes Road in Lansing or SIREN for Abused Women and Children in Charlotte. Both always are in need of free help answering phones, stuffing envelopes, etc. You could pick up some of our shut-ins on Sunday mornings who would love to come to Bible Study and Church None of these asks you to stand on the corner and evangelize total strangers. Doing the above allows you to fulfill Matthew 25: 35 – 45.
May God always bless and keep you.
With deepest affection,