Ending and Beginning… A Reflection from Deacon David
The tee-shirts and sweatshirts on sale throughout Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, including Ironwood, at the far western tip, are known for their creativity and irony (no pun intended—this has long been known as Iron Country, after all). I love the one that proudly proclaims: “The U.P.—where the middle of nowhere is somewhere.”
Last Sunday, Burna and I left the worship service at Ironwood’s Wesley United Methodist Church, where Burna grew up, right after the special music, which had been provided by two of her grandchildren. We were due, 30 minutes later, at a beautiful lakeside residence in one of the furthest corners of nowhere in the dense northern Wisconsin forest.
The occasion was what one might call a “decommissioning” of the Community Christian Church in Hurley, Wisconsin. This small circle of friends was launched 19 years ago, almost to the day, by several members of the local Presbyterian Church. It has been a worshipping, serving fellowship without fixed address, whose home base was simply its weekly Sunday gathering. For the last few years, that gathering has been held in the chapel of the Ketola Funeral Home in Ironwood. Another irony.
I’ve been a guest preacher and Burna a guest pianist for the Hurley Christian Church during our summer visits in Ironwood since 2007. This summer we gathered around three large scrapbooks to tell stories and reflect on 19 years of worship, community service, and fellowship. All eight members present were clear: their purpose and witness had been the simple authenticity of meeting human need.
I mention this celebratory ending because the attitude of affirmation and anticipation I brought to it was profoundly influenced by my experience of the Church of the Holy Family. Openness to change and respect for spiritual growth has welcomed all who come and blessed all who leave. Whatever else an ending might be, it is most certainly the beginning of a new adventure. My perception of our time and my vision of the Church has been shaped by this attitude.
It seems critically important to recognize that the church and the world are in a time of pervasive ending and astonishing beginning. An amazing new adventure is happening and we are at its heart. I believe that only people of faith can see and appreciate the anxiety and wonder of simultaneous death and birth. How we end what’s passing away and how we begin what’s needed next, has profound implications for our own well-being and the future of the world around us. Our call is to be servants of ending and beginning.