The Gospel reading this week has Jesus getting off the boat in Gennesaret and being mobbed by the people there. He gets rock-start treatment. They flock in and bring their sick and helpless for his blessing. Just touching the corner of his robe is enough. What were they looking for in Jesus? Was it just healing or did someone more attract them? Sometimes we look down the street and see a full parking lot on Sunday morning and we wonder what they are doing right or perhaps what we are doing wrong. It is easy to do, the logic of that comparison and its conclusions can grip us. We might draw ourselves up into righteous indignation and insist that we are being faithful to the Confessions, but that is cold comfort when the budget is pinched and the church council is forced to consider cutbacks to expenditures. As a Pastor, I am one of those expenditures.
I had a conversation with an old friend not long ago. He is a layman, came from Germany himself. He wonders what these evangelicals and others are doing and how can we emulate them. He sees his church shrinking and casts about for the techniques and methods to reverse that course. He is a businessman. He is keenly aware of the profit and loss margins that mean survival and bankruptcy. It is the world he lives in. If sales are falling, he has to know why and take immediate measures to fix them. But what do you do when it is not sales but souls at stake? The human being is a strange and mysterious being. I can manipulate some things in a human being, which soap they buy perhaps. But some things I cannot. Answering the call to worship, faith, trust, love – these all take a motivation and movement which I think we cannot shape. This takes the Spirit of God. Pray for that Spirit to blow.