My mother was a Methodist and a Republican.? My father was a Baptist and a Democrat.? After years of marriage, two children, and a falling out with Fort Wayne Methodists, they became Presbyterians.?? They never did resolve the politics.
Linda and I were married in a Methodist Church in her hometown New Albany.? We joined a Methodist Church in Bloomington.? Over the years numerous pastoral changes produced other changes?and it just wasn?t the same.? Linda heard about First United and enthusiastically started attending services.? I would like to say that her enthusiasm was so contagious that I was immediately smitten and headed off to services with her.? I would like to say that?but I can?t.
A number of months passed before I started attending.? Rarely the first to change anything, I admit that Linda?s growing attachment to the church community piqued my curiosity.? ?And that?s how I got to First United Church.
The more challenging question is what keeps me at First United?? This is a project that requires focus and ?some? inward searching.?? I can better handle the focus part.
First United?s greatest asset are its people?all of them.? They don?t look alike, sound alike and they certainly don?t think alike.? But what could seem to be a potential for conflict is actually an opportunity for growth.? Within our numbers there is a wide range of people, people with great life experiences and a wide variety of talents and skills.? (We all have them!)? They are interesting folks.? And if you pay attention to the informal conversations at coffee hour, you can learn something.
First United people seem completely approachable. ??I never felt the designation of ?new? and never observed some hierarchy I had to penetrate.?? First United people also like to do things.? Unfortunately, this is noteworthy.? In today?s internet/cable television world, most people appear to spend their time praising or criticizing the acts of others.?? So, it?s very nice to be around people that actually prefer to do something.?? We are blessed with good chemistry here.
Besides its people, I really enjoy the worship services.? The rules and customs of the courtroom can create an intimidating environment within which to function.? Yet, for me, an old trial lawyer, there was always some comfort in predictability.? With this background in mind, let me say that First United?s worship service achieves a balance of structure and comfort that I have seen in no other church?and certainly no other courtroom.? Nothing is ever done exactly the same way twice?but you?re reasonably sure what?s next.? All the common worship events, from communion, passing the collection plates and making announcements are organized?but not choreographed.? Sometimes a sermon gets shortened by a few paragraphs or a hymn gets cut, because some spontaneity elsewhere allowed us to fall ?behind.??? Miscues are absorbed with good humor and the program rolls on. ?First United is not a form over substance place?and that is a great thing, a comfortable thing.
Finally, I appreciate the spiritual leadership that Jack and Caela provide, complementary but not identical.? My Christian scholarship has improved.? My belief system encounters the occasional healthy challenge.? And I feel that Jack and Caela are not sending us on the journey, but are walking the journey with us.? For me, that?s important?and just another reason to keep coming back.