A critical time...

Fall is starting to mark its place here in Minnesota and some of the trees are already changing. Soon the road south will be filled with tourists and the advent of "good sleeping weather" will be with us.

There will be much to do in the weeks ahead, buildings to erect, cleaning to do, and preparations for the visit of our Bishop. We race the onset of winter in these parts and the shorter days and cooler breezes lends an urgency to things.

But larger changes loom ahead, changes that involve not just buildings and paint but the transformation of our hearts. We must become something that to date we've never been taught to be or experienced, a vital movement of belief rooted in Gospel values. The situation is close to the edge and on our willingness to move beyond the safety of our small circles, both personally and as a parish, hangs the life of our church.

I've spoken of it before and will again but time is short. Demographics are not on our side, each person who moves, each person who opts for a casual relationship with the parish, and those who are present in body but not spirit, exponentially impacts what happens. What happens in the next few months will profoundly determine whether our parish is in a death spiral or emerging from the bottom of a trough towards better things.

So each trip along the river road has become a matter of mixed emotions for me. I do really care for what happens to St. Elias and the people who have stayed faithful all these years. They are good people and the potential of this little church remains large. I'm hoping for that change of spirit, that spark that lights the fire that gives these good people the will to become special, to step out of the comfort even a small and struggling parish can provide to something new and better. I have that hope inside but sometimes I wonder and that wonder leaves me struggling with large questions.

If God weren't involved in all of this...

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