In 1843 during the middle of a devastating and widespread famine throughout France, Queen Marie Antoinette was told of the conditions of the peasants and their lack of food. Her counsel was, “Let them eat cake.” It was either a complete disregard of their situation or a complete ignorance of what life was like outside the palace. Either way, it was a revealing statement about the Queen’s elitist attitude.
While historians disagree on the accuracy of this quote, it has become a symbol of sorts for those out of touch with what life is like outside of one’s own small, insulated bubble. For example, those living in a healthy, well-adjusted family may have no idea of what life is like in a dysfunctional family. Those who have never experienced abuse may have few points of understanding those who have suffered physical, sexual or mental abuse. Those who have lived as a majority race may not be able to comprehend the overt and subtle forms of racism.
Can the same be said about the church?
For years now I have been consulting, coaching and mentoring churches around the country on issues such as leadership, vision, staffing, worship, administration, job descriptions, evangelism and the call process. I hope I have offered some wisdom and direction that have proven helpful. But I do know that these conversations have been extremely insightful for me. They have enabled me to see what life is like beyond my own small, insulated bubble of Christ Lutheran.
Just when I am tempted to complain about worship attendance not being where I want it to be, I remember that the median worship attendance is around 70.
Just when I think I have to do everything around here, I’m reminded that most pastors are the only full time staff a church can afford.
Just when I am juggling three campuses and coordinating an overwhelming calendar of events, I’m told of yet another church that has to close its doors for lack of participation.
Just when I am concerned about some conflict dealing with worship times, I hear of another church that has split because of clergy sexual improprieties.
It is easy to get so engrossed in our own world, sitting in our own ivory tower, that we quickly dismiss everyone else with a thoughtless remark, “Let them eat cake.”
Christ Lutheran has so many marvelous things going on that we too easily take it for granted or assume what we have here can be found anywhere. And it’s not true. Believe me, there is a famine out there. People are starving.
Come sit with me during the next New Member Class and you will hear about Christ Lutheran as described by fresh, new eyes that have seen life outside of our walls. You will hear about worship that is engaging and uplifting. You will listen to lonely hearts that have found a place of belonging. You will marvel as they describe children and youth programming for their family. You will hear from grateful souls who see us working hard on diversity. You will be inspired by those who were ready to give up on church until they came here.
May we never forget to return to God with prayers of gratitude and thankfulness for the gift of this church. May we never neglect to share our blessings and gifts with others. May we never let our eyes grow so weary, so old, that we don’t see the blessings and uniqueness of this place.
How Good, Lord, To Be Here,