As I sit in a meeting in the library at Christmount I am looking out through an open window and I see the porch on the outside of the building in which we are meeting. There is a large concrete floor with an awesome A frame wooden overhang. There are eighteen or so wooden rocking chairs on the porch but the chairs are rocking back and forth rhythmically. No one is sitting in them yet they are rocking just as if someone is sitting in them. The chairs rock in harmony. It is a strange sight. I am taken aback. I quickly figure out that it is the wind that is moving the chairs but my heart cries out, “ghosts sitting in the rocking chairs”. It is a charming thought. The ghost rockers have caught our attention.
It just so happens that at the very moment we are seeing the ghost rockers on the porch we are talking about some major changes in policy and direction that would probably have the saints of the past rolling over in their graves. I laugh but I wonder if the ghost of our beloved past leaders are trying to tell us something. As the ghost rockers move back and forth with feverish intensity I can only imagine the ghost of yesterday’s leaders are not happy with what we are considering.
There is a very real sense in which the presence of those who came before us are always with us. The memory of their spirits and the love we shared with them stays with us long after they have departed this life. We can only imagine their reactions to what we say and do in the on-going world in which we live. We have a great debt to those who came before us but we also have a great obligation to those who will follow us. We stand between the recognition and love of those who lived the faith before us and those who will inherit the future from what we do in the present. It’s a dual obligation with even more complexity as we add into the equation that we owe faithfulness to ourselves and our sense of what God would have us do as well as the past and the future.
The ghost rockers were a funny image but they got me to thinking. What about you? How do you live out what God is calling you to do and who he is calling you to be, as well as be faithful to what those who came before us understood faithfulness to be? The ghost of our “leader’s past” are always with us and always guiding us and always blessing us even as we understand God in new ways in changing times. Maybe the ghosts weren’t so unhappy, maybe they were just rocking and saying, “go ahead folks, do your best, that’s what we did”! I look forward to seeing you in church as we continue to consider how God leads us in the present and into the future.