Meningsbee found a note taped to his front door when he returned from a Tuesday morning grocery excursion.
His desire to purchase food stuff had lessened in the two years since his wife, Doris, had died of a heart attack. Throughout their marriage, they had done all of their shopping together, and had even found great fulfillment in meal planning.
Yet a meal for one is not much fun.
So every couple of days the good Reverend pried himself away from duties and went out to consider the quality of a tomato.
Carrying his small bag of groceries to the door, he found the note. It was hand-written and contained a very simple message:
We are too old to change. Why don’t you leave us alone?
Meningsbee removed the note from his door, came into his home and sat down at the kitchen table. He wasn’t sure why this particular message impacted him, but he felt sad.
Was he doing too much?
Is there such a thing as being too old to change?
Was the note from someone who had left the church, or from a parishioner who remained but was frightened to share it with him face-to-face?
The contemplation hung over him all week long. Even as he drove to the church on Sunday morning, he was still wondering about the prudence of his efforts.
As in the previous week, he arrived and things were already buzzing. People had placed the chairs in the front, and were praying for each other, and about eight new souls were visiting.
The atmosphere was completely different from an average church. It more resembled a well-run clinic, or perhaps students in a high school getting ready to head off to home room to begin the day’s activities.
Yet as Meningsbee watched and listened, his uncertainty persisted. Was it possible that he was trying to change something holy into something too common?
He made his way to the front of the church as the congregation gradually fell silent. For a long, almost uncomfortable moment, he stood facing the altar with his back to his friends.
He turned around very slowly and spoke.
“I hope you folks understand that I’m not coming to destroy what you’ve built here at this church, but instead, as Jesus said, trying to bring us life and it more abundantly, and find a way for our joy to be full.”
Meningsbee was surprised because a huge “Amen” was chorused across the room.
He smiled and continued. “It’s really not complicated. It’s what Jesus said in Matthew 5, verse 21. He told us there are things said by ‘men of old,’ but they just don’t work anymore. Maybe they were good once upon a time, when they were fresh, and brought life and joy, but now they are tainted by repetition and squabblings. Our job is to find out what is old, but really gold, instead of what is old and just mold.”
There was an inspiring giggle. He chuckled a little himself as he continued.
“There are many things that have been done in this church for hundreds of years that may still be good. They bring life, they bring joy. We should keep them. They are gold. And then there are things that are just old and covered with an unhealthy mold that are making us sick and bored. They need to go.
So my assignment for next week is to come in here and tell me the things you remember about this church. What is old and gold, and what is old and mold?”
The congregation clapped its hands in agreement. It seemed to be a concept quickly grasped and eagerly accepted. Even the visitors began to chat among themselves about possible choices.
Young and old alike were stirred to rumination. Were the things being done in the Garsonville church uplifting or life-taking?
Meningsbee was rejuvenated.
He realized, you never get too old to change.