My Father hired and oversaw the work of many people in his career as an investment banker. Even as a young child, I can recall him talking to my Mother about his work day. One salesman had irked him by failing to follow up with a customer who had a known interest in a particular security. Another got on the wrong side of the boss by having shoes he had purchased from Marshall Field’s delivered to his desk at work.
Mostly, though, he was not happy when there weren’t enough “deliverables.” He made it clear to new salesmen that the key deliverable he expected of them was to form relationships with the customers so as to encourage repeat business and positive word of mouth about the firm which each salesman represented.
When it comes to the Church, what constitutes the “deliverables” is not so different, although of course measuring those deliverables is quite different. Forming genuine and growing relationships – with God and with one another – are central to Christian formation and life. We offer worship on the Lord’s Day every week because Resurrection life is a life lived out in community.
In the midst of the first chapter of John’s Gospel, John the Baptist says of Jesus as he is walking by, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Two of those nearby followed Jesus, and Jesus said to them, “What do you seek?” They responded, “Teacher, where are you abiding?” Jesus said to them, “Come and see.”
It seems to me that not much has changed. If we want to understand who this Lamb of God might be and if we are to gain insights into what it is our spirits most seek, we need to gather together – to “come and see” – what the Holy Spirit is about in our own lives and in the world of which we are a part. As with the salesmen, we need to form ongoing relationships with one another and with God, bearing witness to God’s grace at work in the world as we do so.
Together, we are far more capable of discerning the “deliverables” God wants us to discover than is possible if we draw upon our individual resources alone. This fall, St. John’s offers both ongoing and new opportunities for discerning together. I hope to see you in (and at!) church!