Pastoral Vision Letter #7
There’s an old wise fable, often mistakenly attributed to Aesop, known as the Mice in Council.
The story tells of a colony of field mice who have grown tired of being chased away by the farmer’s cat every time they went to the barn looking for food. Tired and hungry, the mice offer suggestions on how to rid themselves of the cat. But, all their ideas are impractical, impossible, or far too gruesome to be carried out. “Why must we kill the cat?” a wise old mouse spoke up.
“We are too small and weak to do such an act; what we need is a warning sign, something to tell us that he’s coming so we can run and hide.” He explained that a simple bell around the cat’s neck would serve their purpose. With cheers of great joy everyone agreed on the idea. “That’s genius!” they shouted. “Why didn’t I think of that?” The old mouse stood up, asked for silence and said: “now then, which one of YOU will volunteer to place the bell on that cat?”
Words and ideas always sound great and inspiring, but putting these words—these ideas—into action is where our struggle begins. It is easy to speak about the ways things should be—on how we’re missing the mark—but to actually do what needs to be done, to create change, requires courage and trust. In every Church Vision there exists a natural tension between the presented ideals and the lived reality. A Vision doesn’t simply promote the status quo, it challenges it. This disparity between the Vision and the status quo is what creates tension, much like a rubber band being stretched out. Often, we are tempted to let the tension change our Vision, to water it down, so that is feels comfortable. We allow our Vision to conform to the ways things are and we render it useless. Instead, we need to allow this tension to challenge us, to pull us closer to the Vision and make the necessary changes that will bring us closer to God’s plan for us.
Renewing Our Commitment to Living Our Faith and Building Our Community
(2 Timothy 1:8-14)
After three years of living and worshiping with you, I firmly believe that God is calling us to embrace a new Vision for our Church. Now, in my newly-appointed role as pastor, I look at the awesome changes happening in our physical church—the tearing down and building up—and I see how God is inviting us to tear down the things that divide us and to build up a Church that is founded in a commitment to Worship, Prayer, Service, Formation, and a Life of Holiness. This tension we feel between our Vision and the status quo must stretch and pull us, it must fill us with God’s love so that the flame within us will burn with excitement once more.
By now I hope that we’ve learned that renewal doesn’t happen by listening to homilies, reading books or articles, or by simply agreeing with me in order to get me to be quiet. Our Worship must be renewed by centering our Liturgies on Christ; we must improve our Prayer Life by actually Praying; our call to Service must be centered on Living a Spirit of Stewardship; the importance of Formation must challenge us to take the time to Study and Learn our Faith; and our Holiness can only be developed by responding to God’s Call to Live the Gospel. Words cannot substitute actions. We cannot simply SAY, we must LIVE and DO true and authentic Discipleship.