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Slow Church is Here

 
 

Remember the 55 mph speed limit? Back in the 1970s in reaction to the oil embargo crisis (remember the lines at gas stations?) a federal law was instituted of 55 mph over the whole country. I’m sure anyone under 40 is incredulous. This happened when I first got my driver’s license, so I didn’t think much of going down the freeway at 60 (always five mph over). Then one day I went to Portland with my older cousin — she immediately got in the left lane, said something disparaging about the 55 mph law and took off at 70 plus! In addition to worrying about police, I felt we were going so fact (she also tailgated, which scared me too. I’ve never been comfortable with speed.

From where we sit today, this seems so antiquarian. now if I drive at 55 I become anxious. Speed is what our culture is all about. Stephanie Brown in her book, Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Faster and Faster and Our Fear of Slowing Down says, ‘the current impact of speed on our culture is unprecedented and unforeseen. It is now causing serious damage to us as individuals and as a culture. The highest power, economically, socially, and within the family (as parents and schools push for kids to do more and ore in order to “succeed”) is now speed — moving constantly and moving fast. Fast means progress and success. Slow means failure. In the all-or-nothing American culture, fast means you win and slow means you lose. it’s as if we have moved from drivng a highway at 55 mph to 65 mph sto 100 miles per hour; we can’t slow down for the curves, and we are crashing.”

The catch phrases are the “cult of speed” and “hurry sickness.” We are pressured to go fast in order to succeed, but at the same time, it is causing stress, anxiety and other related health problems. Increasingly speed is becoming the defining value of our culture — it decides who wins and who loses, who has power and weth and who doesn’t

At the same time, we must remember, it is the calling of the church to critique and to question cultural norms ad values in general, and especially as they negatively affect people and individuals and the common good. In my mind the cult of speed is negatively affecting us emotionally, physically and spiritually. One of the reasons people suffer from depression is the feeling of being overwhelmed, anxious and unable to keep up. The affects are also social as those who are able to access and use information faster, become more wealthy and powerful — the reality is the majority cannot keep up. It is also a justice issue. This is a tidbit of what has been on my mind leading me to choose to read, study and preach on Slow Church.

I will be preacing on the book Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, by C. Christopher Smith and John Patterson from now until Easter (Easter is early this year — March 27). Everyone will participate simply by coming to worship; one can also participate by attending one of the classes on Sunday evenings (6:00-7:30) and Wednesday mornings (9:30-11:00). Please let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday. P. Jim

 

Pastor Jim

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