Our ministry is growing and is experiencing the blessing of growth and some growing pains too! The congregation that I pastor just welcomed its 41st member. Many of you have heard me teach on the significant biblical number of 40, which I always interpret as a time of preparation, so with our 41st member, I look forward to finding out what God has been preparing us for! And our ministry is nearing 40 years old (well 33 anyway), so the years ahead are going to be exciting indeed.
The growth in our congregation has certainly challenged our building. We have taken out two walls, upgraded the heating system, replaced the windows, and are now in the midst of replacing the worn out carpet that I installed 15 years ago. It is so nice to have help installing the floors (shout out to my son-in-law Joshua and the rest of the congregation!). And there has been some talk about removing the wall between the sanctuary and my office to increase that space, moving me to the back of the building into a nice cozy space that overlooks the parking lot.
And I think here’s where I draw the line… . While as an office space that rear room would be fine, I would miss the exposure to the street that I so enjoy now, especially this time of year when it gets dark so early!
I have always been drawn to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Standing in the dark, looking into that (somewhat?) cheery lighted diner, it makes me want to go in and order a cup of coffee and a piece of pie, to kibitz with those guys sitting at the counter. And I suspect that many outside my window see the light and are drawn to come in. The front of our building, as I have said before, is intended to offer a little cognitive dissonance, a zap in the brain that says, “What’s going on here?” It is clearly Jewish, with the Hebrew lettering on the window, the menorah (two of them), the Star of David (three of them), and the occasional Israeli flag that I fly outside. But then there’s the cross (three synodical crosses outside), the mention of Y’shua on our sign, and the fish in the middle of one of the menorahs! Huh? Well, at least no one can accuse me of a “bait and switch!”
And twice in the last three days I’ve had great opportunities to share Jesus with those who succumb to temptation and come in. Jason, a nurse in a nearby facility walked in to explore his own Jewish roots and discovered just how Jewish Jesus is, and today I had the opportunity to give an impromptu Hebrew lesson to Elena, a woman visiting from Mexico City with a Torah in Hebrew and Spanish. She learned a little Hebrew, a little Rashi, and a little Jesus. She’s going to come back to practice her pronunciation, and I look forward to helping her grow and share her faith through her Torah.
So, no move for me to the back of the building, and if you happen to pass by, see the light and wonder, come on in. Let’s kibitz. I do have coffee, and you never know…there might be pie!