Monday, May 18, 2009

The messes we find ourselves in

Last night was the first night of our “?Why” series. It was quite an interesting night. As I was driving to the event with one of my friends, I commented that all of the details that I could think of had been taken care of, but it wouldn’t surprise me if something came up that I hadn’t anticipated.

That was an understatement.

I was supposed to meet the man who was opening up Abundant Life church (where we were holding the event) at 6:45 p.m. He didn’t show then, or at 6:50, 6:55, 7:00, 7:05 and suddenly we all realized that we had a problem. I was sure he would show as I had left a message with the man on Friday. I had met him twice in person and had no inclination that he would forget. Plus another man from our new church had been to Abundant Life on early Sunday afternoon. He had been assured by a staff person that someone would open the church for us.

But at 7:05 p.m. our group was standing outside Abundant Life church wondering what to do. I didn’t have the man’s cell phone, so I was at a loss. The weather was so beautiful—almost perfect by Minnesota standards—that it was hard to be upset. Someone from our group suggested seeing if another door in the church was open. That worked—in a way that none of us could have imagined. Another door in the church was open; the person from our church walked inside and opened the front door of the church from the inside. We thought the problem had been solved. But--suddenly a very loud noise blasted from inside the church. Unfortunately the church had a motion detector alarm system.

Uh-oh. Now we were all standing outside the church. The door was not locked anymore, but a shrieking alarm was blaring inside the church.

We could have gone in and tried to do the event, but the alarm was scaring the kids. So we decided to wait for the police to come. Eventually they did. The police officer was able to talk to someone from the company monitoring the church’s alarm system. That company had the cell phone number of our contact from the church. The police officer called the guy, he came over, he was very apologetic for forgetting, and we started 40 minutes late.

I still can’t get upset by what happened. I think the whole story is funny—and illustrative of the journey that new churches encounter. I could be mad at myself for not ensuring with 100 percent certainty that the guy would show up. But I had met with him twice and I had left a message on his answering machine asking last week. I certainly should have had his cell phone number.

I shared with our group that flexibility has to be part of who we are as a community, and that mistakes happen. We don’t like them and we must plan well, but we might as well enjoy the journey , laugh at ourselves—and learn from our miscues.

The event went well. Our turnout was a little lower than I anticipated—16 adults and five kids. But I truly think that the beautiful Minnesota weather kept our attendance down. This was the first weekend night for a long time where the weather was good. I’m sure that many people chose the weather over “?Why.”

If anyone would like to read the talk I gave, go to: I was addressing the question, “Why doesn’t God intervene to stop suffering, especially among children?”

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