How Do You Like Your Eggs?
Eggs and bacon, scrambled eggs, frittatas, quiche, over easy, hard boiled, omelets, and we could go on and on. There are a great many ways to enjoy eggs. Since they typically take a little bit of preparation I think many people would associates having eggs with a more pleasurable dining experience rather than something rushed. Eating eggs might remind us of an experience that is warm and inviting. Maybe it even reminds us of having breakfast together as a family.
I can see a parallel between eating eggs and our church. For many of us coming to church is a warm and inviting experience. We enjoy the friends and family. We find comfort in the Word and Sacraments. We know what to expect because we’ve been there before; we’ve “tasted” that before.
It is VERY rare that a congregation would dare to think that they were anything but warm, inviting, welcoming, loving, caring, Christ-like. I don’t recall a single congregation that said that of themselves. And I have heard of people going to a congregation and having feedback contrary to the opinion of being loving. So how can there be such a gap?
Something else in common between eggs and churches is in the preparation of the eggs. You’ve heard the phrase “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.” Something you don’t want in your food is the shell. The shell is something that we need to ‘overcome’ to enjoy what’s inside. We don’t want what carries the ‘good stuff’ we just want the good stuff.
A church may be filled with delightful members and yet have a shell which protects them from outsiders. Guests may want to be a part of the community but virtually every congregation has a shell they must penetrate before they are able to fully enjoy what the congregation has to offer. It’s safe to say that there are even levels of difficulty. Some may have a shell as soft as a chicken egg, others and ostrich egg (doesn’t that require a hammer to break?) or even the shell of a coconut with a husk around that.
Growing our congregation will require a significant change. We can’t make an honest judgment of our shell from the inside. In fact I doubt that we think it exists. Trust me when I say that it does.
The change that we will need to make is to start by being humble before God. Already humble? Benjamin Franklin is reported to have carried a small piece of paper with him of 10 things he wanted to improve in himself. For many years he had “Be humble” as one of the items. Finally and with great confidence he was able to see that he had become humble and removed that from his list. The same source reports that it didn’t take too long for him to see that claiming to be humble shouts a lack of humility; so he put it back on the list and never took it off again.
Growing our congregation is going to require each of us to work daily at being humble. We will need to work at serving not only each other, but recognize that every person we encounter is a beloved child of God. Our goal is to love every person as God’s representative. Not sure how to be humble, try going from being the creator of the whole universe to being born a helpless baby.
Ok, what about letting go of our idea that we are warm and inviting and looking for new ways to serve all people in humility? As our humility grows the shell will thin to a point where people will feel truly welcomed, invited, warm, loved.
May our Lord help us to grow more humble by the minute.
~ Pastor Oatman