What is my hope for the future of Cochran Memorial Presbyterian Church and the Three Voices congregation?
As I look around the church on any given Sunday, it’s obvious that I am one of the youngest persons attending. At 52 years old, that seems to imply little hope for the future of new generations coming in to assume our places. In just a few decades, most of us will be gone … hopefully just to our new, more exotic southern homes somewhere that is warm year-round. Who will take our places?
But expanding my vision beyond our church walls, I find this is not a problem that is facing only our Three Voices of Oneida Castle, Verona, and Vernon folks. When I do my newspaper stories on Sunday mornings, it often entails attending other church services. I find we are far from unique -- quite often, I am the youngest one at these other churches as well. Where are their future generations?
Let’s look at the world situation. Here in the United States, murders on college and high school campuses are getting to be so commonplace we almost have started to expect them. They are barely even news anymore. And they are coming closer and closer, as we saw last week in Geneseo. Our presidential race this year has become more of a media spectacle than a search for the leader of the free world and concentration on the common good. Our social media and Internet, rather than being vehicles to convey education and information, now deliver drama, propaganda, and overwhelmingly bad news constantly.
Sadly, our lives here in the U.S., for all of these flaws, are still better than much of the world. In many places, war-torn families might not know if their sons and daughters will survive to the next day. People of impoverished nations fear for their futures without the means to provide for their families. Natural disasters also seem to be more and more in the news.
Religious zealots are at odds with each other, with many claiming their own beliefs are superior to all others. And some are willing to kill over it.
Some might wonder why God has failed us. But that’s the exact opposite of my view … I think we have failed God.
The separation of church and state, for example, has become a hotbed of discussion as our leaders seem to try to push God further and further away. Rather than embracing the soothing compassion of religion, churches are emptying. People are not reaching out to God in their time of need. But He remains there for them. God hasn’t deserted the people, even as they have deserted Him.
In a short-term view, I see things getting worse in the world as chaos reins. Long-term, however, I have all hopes that there will soon be a glorious turning back to God. Whether it takes an incredible cataclysm will remain to be seen, but I think that the evil we see all around us today will soon be transformed to a renewed vigor within the churches -- ours included -- that will unite the people once again under God.
That is my hope for not only Three Voices, but all of Christianity as well.