There are a lot of ghost towns in the US, especially in rural parts of the country. When my wife and I are traveling through some back roads in southwestern Oklahoma, for instance, we inevitably come across these tiny little towns that may have a single gas station to their name. At one time, that little spot in the road may have hosted a store, church, post office, and more – it may have been the nearest place for a lot of folks to come to get their news of the outside world and do business.
But with changes in technology, driving 30-50 miles to go shopping is easy. Getting a phone call from around the world is effortless. Packages can be shipped overnight, and some people do all their business from their laptop. Those little towns have dried up, leaving behind just a few families who like the peace and quiet.
For the rest of us, our crossroads have changed. We can connect with people when and where we choose, whether it is in a grocery store line, via Facebook, at church, through a local networking group, or at a game. We can roll up our windows, look the other way, delete the message, and move on with our life. We have more control than ever before.
And yet, these places of connection are still extremely important to us. People who are not connected to others, who do not have friends or support networks, often struggle the most. Some with mental illness, like suspected Arizona gunman, Jared Loughner, find their imbalance worsened without meaningful relationship. Even church, in all of our theology and ideas and systems and programs, is still the best when you have good friends there. Our social networks are still the primary ways we find jobs and mates.
No matter how the world changes, we still need friends and fellow travelers to keep us company on the long journey of life.
This is why, when I talk about church, I often like to talk about community. The Table is really more than a worship service – we are a community of diverse people who journey together. And in the coming months, we are being challenged with the whole church to open our hearts and arms and minds to those new connections, to be a new crossroads for our neighborhood and city.
Join us at the Table, at the crossroads, this Sunday!
- Rev. Nathan