I have been as busy as most these days, what with preparing this year’s Christmas Story as well as revising Sherlock Holmes and The Ghosts of Savannah (working title) before it goes in for copy edits. However, this past Thursday, 2 December, I was invited to Good Grounds Church, where, in anticipation of the coming holidays, I presented a talk—okay, a sermon—which I called “Gifts and Risk.”
See, once upon a time, I thought I had the call to preach, get a Masters of Divinity, become a pastor—the whole nine yards. That never worked out, thank God, though it led me on a long winding path to become a struggling writer, which is the very place I belong. I’ve got so many stories to tell, with more piling up all the time, that if I couldn’t do this, I’d pop. And, there is some hope that I am improving my craft, though I’m sure I have a long way to go. In any case, my stories always spring from the idea of redemption, an arc of transformation, which is always, already, about my faith.
Sometimes, though, along my path, things happen to take me back to my roots, and Good Grounds Church was the latest. They gave me a chance to preach, which I hope was not “preachy.” My publisher, Natalia, set me up for this event, introducing me to Tim and Amy Cooley, who provide the meeting place, opening their home to all who wish to attend, all who are looking for community—or maybe just a meal with some folks who welcome eeryone to the table. No one is turned away. They are working, I think, on a building in which to meet, but I am here to say that they are already “the Church,” in my opinion. They represent all that a Christian community is supposed to be: welcoming, caring, non-judgmental people, whose faith invites them to care for others in the way they have been cared for. And while Tim and Amy are great organizers, the ‘church’ they run is a far cry from the institution that the modern church has become. Love is their only business. Good Grounds is, in a word, refreshing, in another word, ‘nurturing.’ For they are not interested in being right about something, unless it is Jesus’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
I think that many folks get “wrapped around the axle” during the preparations for Christmas, so much so that they wouldn’t mind seeing it all end on noon of 25 December. Having been rushed to complete and compete, they simply forget the “Sabbath of the Year,” as I call it, all of Christmastide. We all need this extended time od sabbath thinking to drive away the emptiness of ‘success’ that often drives us. The path of getting, having more only burns us out. Good Ground, though, is a place to go to remember that the Founder of the Feast was a poor man who preached the most revolutionary ideas in history and was executed as a criminal because of the dangerous idea that God loves all God’s children, regardless of how they look or what they say. Christmas can be a time that reminds us that the quest for power anywhere we find it has little to nothing to do with the gift that is offered to us at Christmas.
Through the Christmas Season and beyond, Good Ground meets on the first and third Thursdays of the month for a meal and a program of some sort. The time is 6:30-8:30 and the address is 1334 South Second Street, Lou. Ky. You can also find them at GoodGroundChurch.com to check out what is coming up. The next meeting, 16 December, will offer a Christmas Dinner and some carol singing in celebration of the season.
So thank you all, Tim, Amy, Natalia, and all the folks who welcomed this old curmudgeon and listened to his rambling message about Gifts and Risk. I will be back just to bask in the glow of caring. Happy Advent and a Joyous Christmastide to all!