Searching for the Right Metaphor
One day last week, I paused outside the doors of the church for a conversation with a member who was leaving the building as I was entering. We began talking about the new opportunities we have to share life with university students, opportunities we could not have foreseen even a few months ago. I added my own surprise at the number of conversations I’m having these days with adults struggling through faith and doubt, and interested in a church like UBC. That led to a brief reflec- tion on the events of the past month—the first Celtic service, beginning of Worship Arts Ministry for kids, and our new Wednesday night format.
I responded that it felt like we were beginning to see tiny, but still fragile sprouts coming out of the ground after months, even years, of seed planting and nurturing of the soil. It is exciting to see that new life springing up, but also a reminder that new life needs a lot of attention and care.
Of course, it is October and I imagine most of us, maybe all of us, are hoping for cooler days. The “sprout coming out of the ground” metaphor sounds more like a metaphor meant for spring.
So, to what should we compare these days at UBC? They are good days I believe. Indeed, we are build- ing significant new relationships with students and whole departments at USM. We are finding many opportunities to share the love of Christ, and to experience that love given by others in the University community. We had about eighty people attend the first Celtic service, including a young adult who wrote later that the service was a turning point for her, literally and symbolically being back in com- munion with the Church. On Wednesday afternoons, twelve children fill the Kitchings wing with sounds of life and joy as they learn music and participate in the arts in preparation for leading in worship . Close to one hundred people gather around tables to eat and fellowship each Wednesday evening, followed by time spent learning more about the Bible and ways to practice our faith.
Like I said, a lot of new sprouts springing up… but then its fall, so what would be a better metaphor?
Maybe it is more like the sweet potatoes currently growing in the gardens at Thames (we had a great work day in those gardens on September 10 with several USM student volunteers). There is mystery to sweet potato growth. If you look at the gardens, you can see all the leaves filling and overflowing the beds, but we know the important growth is happening in the soil—we can’t see it. We can count the leaves (just like we can count people), but what really matters is what’s happening in the hidden places.
I kind of like that as a metaphor for this season. We can count the green leaves of the sweet potato plants and the people who have populated our new initiatives all we want, but what really matters is what is happening below the surface, in the hidden places of our lives and our faith. My hope is that all the numbers represent something more—represent a church and a people growing more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
God chose to make known how great among the people are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. -Colossians 1:27