Platinum Jubilee - Monday Musing, February 7, 2022
Platinum Jubilee. Who would have imagined that when Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952 that she would one day celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, a 70-year reign. Since 1837 there have been just six monarchs, which means that the average reign in 185 years is not quite 31 years. Queen Elizabeth blew past that average a long time ago.
70-years is a long time. Remarkably, Queen Elizabeth is the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch (in second place, Queen Victoria, who reigned for an impressive 63 years). News articles about the Platinum Jubilee have noted that the Queen has seen the world change dramatically. Haven’t we all experienced dramatic changes during our lifetimes?
The Federated Church of Orleans is a young 375-years old, so the Queen is an infant when held up against our church! As a community of faith, our congregation has been a spiritual center, and we have experienced change in our community. Over the course of our history, we have faced good times and bad; we have had both struggles and blessings showered upon us, which has me thinking about us and our future. The Queen is 95-years old, so we know that the end of her reign is closer than the beginning. We see images of a woman growing older, frailer, and clearly slowing down. Can the same be said of us?
This coming Saturday the Church Cabinet will gather for a Visioning Retreat, engaging in a purposeful conversation about our church’s future. Research shows that religious institutions as a whole are not on an upward trajectory as they once were. We are not doing anything wrong – in order to stay relevant, congregations everywhere are needing to reevaluate their purpose, structure, mission, and ministry. The Cabinet will begin with an analysis of “Who are we?” This conversation is hard because it forces us to face the reality that we are not as large (or young) as we once were.
This reality check is important because as their conversation shifts to “Why does our congregation exist?” and “Where are we going?” we cannot overlook that in our tradition it is the congregation who serves as the body of Christ – meaning our mission and ministry is a collective effort, not a task for someone else to accomplish for us. There is no question that our collective ability to serve as the body of Christ in Orleans is not as robust as it once was. Who wants to admit to being older, less vibrant?
The good news – there is nothing wrong with who we are! Let’s simply be honest about what we can (and can no longer) do as a gathered community of faith in 2022. God is not through with us – our task is simply to articulate and embrace our mission and ministry in this day, given our gifts, talents, and resources. I invite you to consider these questions, sharing your thoughts with the members of the Cabinet. I have no doubt that they will be pleased to hear from you in advance of Saturday’s retreat. See you in church!