Of Squirrels and Passion

A couple of months ago our family grew by a factor of fur and four paws: Sammy, an eighteen month old schnauzer. Sammy was rescued by a long-time friend who is passionate about dogs. She posted pictures of him on Facebook and it was all over. Anyway, Sammy has been a real joy for us. He is gentle, loves to play, and has a great personality. He has a bit of a bark, as our neighbors would testify- what are you going to do? Sammy's real passion, however, is squirrels.

I don't know what these other furry, four pawed creatures did to arouse his curiosity, but they really enjoy putting him to the test. Now, before he walks out the back door, he pauses: his nose just on the outside for a sniff. He creeps down, almost like a cat ready to pounce. After a few seconds, he bolts to the nearest tree, hopeful of finding a squirrel within reach. What would he do if he caught one? Does he even know? Last week there was an epic showdown- a squirrel was on the ground in the middle of the backyard. Sammy did his creeping thing, shot out, and barely missed the squirrel jumping back to the tree. There was a classic moment as the squirrel, holding on with only his back paws, leaned upside down and taunted the dog. Better luck next time, Sammy.

What drives you? Where is your passion? We have been doing lots of work over the last couple of months about establishing a new vision for OLUMC. About thirty of us gathered for Vision13 in August and shared ideas and dreams. A writing team was formed to take that feedback and form it into proposals for new vision, values, and purpose statements. These were shared with the Church Council, revised after discussion, and will be presented for adoption at this Sunday's Church Council meeting (November 4, after 11:00 worship). You are welcome to attend and share your thoughts. Particularly if you were present at Vision13. I am very proud of the work of this writing team. Come and see what has become of your thoughts.

What's it all for? I've heard a couple of rolled eye comments about this process: we've done that stuff before, but we never DO ANYTHING with it. Well, that may be true of the past, I don't know, but it will not be the case in 2013 and beyond. Our goal is to establish a ten year plan for Oak Lawn Church, taking us to 2024- our 150th anniversary year. I and others will be exploring other congregations similar to Oak Lawn to learn from their experience. We'll have concrete next steps to build up the future. We're doing this because I, your church staff, lay leaders, and every lay person around the place earnestly believe Oak Lawn has unique potential to be a model church for urban ministry in this century. That's the whole enchilada, right there.

So what does this have to do with Sammy and squirrels? I want to know what makes you run. I need to know how you best live out joy. For some, that's being a leader in the church. For others, it's teaching, serving dinner to the homeless, inviting others without a church home. Some aren't sure where they belong yet- and those may be the most important folk we need to hear from. All of us together, living out our passions and gifts, will build the Oak Lawn of 2024. Your passion is out there- just outside the back door. Almost taunting you. Are you ready to rush after it? Do you know what to do with it when you catch it? I promise it's there. Waiting for you to respond. In the church we refer to it as a calling of God. So in your prayer life this week, pause in silence and listen. Let your imagination, working with the Holy Spirit, reveal to you where you should go/what you should do. That's your squirrel. Then seek after it with all your energy.