Several years ago when Canada was considering splitting up their Northwest Territories into two Provinces, they held a contest to see what the Provinces might be named. One of the finalist names was, Bob. Consider the conversations. “Where do you live?” “I live in Umingmaktok; it’s in the Northeast corner of Bob.” You gotta love the whimsical Canadians. Sadly, the name Bob was rejected. Ever since I’ve been thinking we really ought to name something, Bob.
Which brings me to the church. One of the things that drives me crazy about being a Pastor is that I spend most of my time telling people what church, or at least my church, is not. No, we don’t believe in a 6 day creation or that God dictated the Bible. No, we don’t think that we’re going to heaven and the rest of you are going to that other place. No, we’re not a group of people who are so desperately insecure that we have to conjure up a supreme being who will alter the course of our lives if only we pray hard enough. (How does one “pray hard” anyway? Do you get down on your knees and scrunch up your face, or what?) And no, we don’t spend our time moralizing or telling people who they can and can’t fall in love with. You get the picture.
But no matter how hard I try, the moment I mention the word, church, people pretty much run in the other direction. Which would be OK with me if I didn’t think that some active engagement with the mystery we call God might be useful for people who would like to develop and grow. It would be OK with me if I didn’t think that ignoring the spiritual dimension of our lives erodes the sense of grounding and purpose which can sustain us when disaster overtakes our world. So I tell them what church is not, and still they run. Now I’m thinking, maybe we ought to just call it “Bob.”
As in, “I went to Bob the other day and in the midst of the sounds and the images and especially the silence my imagination was stirred. I actually caught a glimpse of – I don’t know how to describe it – the creative presence that lives within me.” Or, ”I went to build houses in Mexico with a group from Bob. I thought I was going to help people less fortunate, and I did, but my life was profoundly changed by the resilience, strength and joy we found in those we met. Or, “There is something about Bob; it’s not that it is magical or anything, but the rituals build a kind of equilibrium within me.”
Anyway, it’s just a thought. If renaming church doesn’t work out though, I’m thinking we should start playing Bob. (People run the other way when I ask them if they play Bridge.)