By Tom Ehrich
A week ago I stopped living out of a suitcase. Yesterday my wife returned from a year in California caring for our grandson. Tomorrow I turn in the rental car I used for Fresh Day on the Road.
At that point, the immediate travel portion of this pilgrimage will be over. But the rest of it goes on: writing about the experience and taking the next steps in seeking to understand faith in the 21st Century.
For now I plan to continue using this blog as my way to think aloud with you. Please feel free to add friends and colleagues to the distribution for this blog. Just send me their email addresses.
More time "on the road" lies ahead. I tend to be critical of the right-wing's "echo chamber" for distorting reality. But I think we all have one or more echo chambers in our lives. Church communications, for example, often speak only to people "within the bubble," as they say. So do the progressive media with which I usually agree. They aren't broad enough. I think we need to get outside -- "on the road," both literally and figuratively -- to connect with the larger themes of our times and to see what God is doing.
We must also learn to think for ourselves. Take advice, sure. How else will we hear about new ideas, new products, new artists unless someone tells us? Try them out, sure. We need first-hand experience whenever possible. But at some point, we need to say, "This idea makes no sense to me." Or, "This new product looks valuable." Or, "I think the Gospel is saying this, not that."
Then, of course, we will need to develop a capacity to disagree -- with respect, with humility, but also with conviction.
I have been "on the road" all of my life. I suspect you have, too. Change has been our constant companion. Maybe it's time we stopped yearning for stability, safety and comfort.
And let's stop yearning for a God who is ever and always the same, immutable, holding the same firm thoughts today as yesterday, enforcing the same laws, uttering the same threats, demanding the same outcomes. That isn't how Scripture portrays God, nor is it how God self-reveals.
When I ventured into church last Sunday, I came to a brand new church and as a brand new person. Yes, they have a history, as do I. But this moment was altogether new. If we can honor that newness, God will be alive in it. If they insist, however, on their history or I on mine, then yesterday's separate journeys will prevail, and something fresh and new will be lost.