Disjointed thoughts, but there's a point:
In the six months I've spent at the church I now serve, most of my attention has been diverted to building, finance and personnel issues. One crisis after another. The building is large, the congregation small, the needs great, the money limited.
I have, of course, tried to engage my people in lively, life-sustaining worship. Every Sunday, Ash Wednesday, one Wednesday night during Lent, Maundy Thursday. Thirty is a huge attendance number for us. Three memorial services, all of them for elderly people whom I did not know, people long gone from attendance by the time I arrived, but whose children remembered that they wanted their services to be held in the church in which they had once participated.
As I drove home from the shiva Monday night, I sighed and thought, "What we do in church is of so little importance. A song here, a prayer there, a long discussion about the budget in the middle. When kids are dying and families are torn to shreds."
At my lectionary group yesterday morning, a group of pastors who meet each week to discuss the upcoming preaching texts, one of the other pastors related a story from the previous morning, a story in which the life struggles to which Jesus speaks came to life in a courtroom in which some of her young people had been required to make an appearance. "We present an alternative," she said ~ "but how hard it would be for them, given the pressures of the streets, to live out that out alternative."
"We present an alternative." I like that phrase. I like it a lot.