"Off the edge of the map, mate."
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
July 5, 2020
My daughters and I recently watched Pirates of the Caribbean, and one of the lines spoken by the Captain Barbossa keeps echoing in my head. (Read it out loud in a gravelly, piratey voice.)
“You’re off the edge of map, mate. Here there be monsters.”
Leading a church – being the Church – in these days of COVID and cultural conflict does indeed feel like navigating uncharted waters. For Immanuel, the unexpected challenges of the recent past add to that feeling, as do the unique challenges we face regarding our immediate future (where will we gather?). It’s not surprising that for many of us anxiety would emerge.
I’m grateful, then, for a book that I’ve been reading, recommended to our diocese by Bishop John. In Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger (written five years ago!), the author uses Lewis and Clark’s expedition into the uncharted territories of the west to map a way forward for the Church. Read with me this great quote:
To be sure, this is an adapt-or-die moment. This is a moment when most of our backs are against the wall, and we are unsure if the church will survive to the next generation. The answer is not to try harder but to start a new adventure: to look over Lemhi Pass and let the assumptions of the past go. To see not the absence of a water route but the discovery of a new, uncharted land beckoning us forward—yes, in the face of the uncertainties, fears and potential losses—to learn and to be transformed. What is needed? An adventure that requires adaptive capacity.
Those words stir excitement and confidence in me, because I see in Immanuel a community shaped for “adventure requiring adaptive capacity.” And part of our current call in the midst of these immediate challenges is to a renewed readiness “to learn and to be transformed” by the Spirit the Father has given us through Jesus.
I invite you to continue praying and listening with us this summer (Hebrews 4:14-16) as we gain clarity on what our life together is to look like. Continue worshiping with us on Sundays and Wednesdays; encouraging each other via the various Zoom Bible studies, fellowships, and gatherings; calling, texting, and emailing each other; serving our community through our several ministries; caring for the present and future of Immanuel through your financial gifts. And continue trusting our God for whom uncharted waters holds not the slightest threat—Jesus walks right over them, and we’re following in his footsteps.
True, we’re off the edge of the map, mates. But here there be Yahweh. (Psalm 139:9-10)
Your Pastor in Christ,