Pastor's Perspectives~ by Pastor Ted Firch
As I sit down to write this today, it is Mother's Day. My mother loved humor. One of her favorite little one liners was this one. A city guy was driving out through the countryside and he got lost. He saw an old farmer standing beside the road and stopped to ask directions to the nearby town. The farmer looked him over for a moment and said, "You can't get there from here."
Now you many not think that is funny, but it always made me laugh. Sometimes the "getting there" is going to be difficult, but you can always get there. What that suggests to me today, is when you are trying to get somewhere, it is helpful to know where you are and where you have been. These are tough times for the Church in North America. The Church is struggling to figure out how to get from here to wherever God wants us to go. As First Christian Church and the Disciples of Christ movement goes toward the future, pause with me to remember who we are and where we have come from.
Our movement was born on what was then the U.S. frontier in the very early 1800's. The religious movements in the United States at that time were mostly trying to compete with each other based upon what made them different. The Methodists were strong on small groups for prayer and study. The Baptists were different beause they practiced only adult baptism and only by immersion. The Congregationalists were different because each congregation made its own decisions without a bishop or other higher-up telling them what to do. So all of this tended to highlight all of those things that divided Chirtians. Our founders sought to build a new movement which could be built on what we had in common. It would be a movement that aimed towards Christian unity. Indeed, our founders used the slogan, "Unity is our polar star."
One other big idea was to base our unity on the New Testament teachings of Jesus Christ. Generations of controversies and theological interpretations had divided up the Church into competing factions. Our founders thought that if we could just get back to following the teachings of Jesus and of his first century followers, we could find some means to unify. They sought to simplify our message, so they added another slogan, "No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible." In this way, we affirmed that we weren't concerned with getting everyone to believe exactly the same, as long as we all together committed to follow the way of Chirst, and Christ only.
There is still room for that message today. Young adults today still hear the word of Jesus Chhrist as being a word of good news, a call from God. In this misguided and violent world, we can still lift up the way of Christ as a way to find both individual salvation, and healing for this big broken world. We can get from here to there, but we need to trust God who makes a way for us to go forward.