"Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness."
Last October I went to a gathering of UCC ministers in the beautiful and bounteous land of Boulder, Colorado.
• Where the streets are paved with granola;
• Where there are more yoga studios and spas than churches;
• Where people are in better health than anywhere else in the country;
• Where the average house costs $477,000.
Needless to say, Boulder is a top-notch place and I wouldn't mind living there myself. But it got me thinking, Jesus might find a tough work-out (of a different sort) in Boulder. It might be hard to find people to heal in Boulder because, by all appearances, most folk are happy, healthy, wealthy, self-satisfied, self-actualized people.
So I asked Rev. Martie McMane, Senior Minister of First Congregational Church in Boulder, how she makes the case for Sunday morning worship over the siren call of the mountains and the healthy, outdoorsy, good-life gospel of Boulder.
She said, "It's hard, but people here aren't much different from people everywhere who need the gospel. Just like the church everywhere, we offer something people can't provide for themselves: the grace of God."
You go, Martie. So much for me pronouncing easy prophetic judgment on some other town.
And no doubt Jesus finds plenty of ways to stay busy in even the most affluent community. Illness, heartbreak, failure, despair and death do not check the status of your financial portfolio before staging an invasion.
Discovering and experiencing God's grace in a Christ-centered community is what we all most desperately need and often it's the last thing we make time for. Yet faith in this good and gracious God is what gives us the strength to move mountains (not just climb them) and the endurance to weather life's storms.
In short, when in Boulder, go see Martie. She's got the goods.
Holy One of Blessing and Eternal Goodness, remind us that the one thing we need most is the very thing we cannot provide for ourselves: grace.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.
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