Yesterday, we took our homeschool co-op to the Indiana Repertory Theatre to see William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker, the renowned story of Helen Keller’s childhood. This field trip was a special event since Rachel, one of our homeschoolers, had a small role in the play. It was an amazing performance, and especially 12-year old Ciarra Krohne who played the role of Helen (pictured).
But this is not a review of the play; there was one line that stuck in my head and that seemed particularly relevant to the recent posts here about the faithfulness of the local church in a peak oil world. Early on in the play, as the tension is building and as Anne Sullivan struggles to make the tiniest bits of progress in her work with Helen, the Keller family is about ready to dismiss Anne and in the course of this tense conversation, she says: “I have nowhere else to go, and nothing else to do.”
If only our local churches would demonstrate this sort of single-minded determination in our faithfulness to bearing witness to the health and flourishing of God’s shalom in our own particular neighborhoods! Our call is not to focus on seemingly greener pastures for ourselves as individuals or as a church. God has called us and gathered in a particular place; we are to be an embodiment of Christ together in that place. Our calling will undoubtedly present its own challenges, just as working with Helen Keller was a seemingly insurmountable challenge for Anne, but if we are focused solely on faithfulness to our calling as a local church, we will see God slowly begin to transform our neighborhoods. Stability, the commitment to be rooted among a particular community in a particular place, is essential to the Slow Church vision (If you are not familiar with the concept of stability and its rich history in the Christian tradition, I highly recommend Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s recent book The Wisdom of Stability, which was the Englewood Review of Books‘ 2010 Book of the year). Seems to me that single-mindedness and determination of Anne Sullivan’s words echoes Jesus’ call for his disciples to “Deny yourselves, take up your cross and follow me.”
What can we do in our churches to nurture this bold sort of commitment to faithfulness in the struggles for the health and flourishing of our neighborhoods?
What are the temptations that dilute this sort of commitment in your own life or that of your church community?