4 Years at RISE

Image used by RISE on 11/20/16
Image used by RISE on 11/20/16

For those visiting this site looking for post-election thoughts, I apologize for the lack of new material.  As some of you may know, last Saturday I suffered through food poisoning and then, shortly thereafter, fell ill with a nasty cold and an ear infection.  Although the doctor tells me I am now on the mend and have been medicated, I still have a persistent cough and cannot hear properly yet.

Anyway, putting politics aside for a bit, I wanted to tell you why today is a special day for me.  Four years ago today, I attended my first service at RISE United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg.  Back then, I had no idea what RISE was all about nor what I was getting myself into; I was simply following the calling of my heart.  Although I suppose you can say that I first went hoping to win the affections of a certain woman, I ended up finding something else, something unexpected.

Prior to discovering RISE, I hadn’t had a church family for a number of years.  From time to time, I would visit a new church, but nothing seemed to fit.  And yet here I am still, four years later.  Now does that mean I never miss a Sunday?  I’d be lying if I said yes. But RISE has become my home, as it has for others in the community.  Not since high school graduation have I stuck with the same church for such a length of time.  However, back then, the church was chosen for me.

In some ways, you could call RISE the church of misfits, those who do not fit neatly into the rigid and premade duties that some other churches require.  To be honest, it is an imperfect church (though if we are honest with ourselves, every church is) but unlike some places, it is open about its imperfection.  It doesn’t pretend that the folks who go to RISE are the world’s greatest saints, that perfect knowledge and salvation rests with that church, and that the rest of the world is comprised of little more than sinners and heretics.  Then again, if everyone acted and thought in perfect lockstep, there would be no chance for dialogue and no prospect for either growth or change.  Their often repeated mission statement is “mending God’s creation together”.

Although I suppose I could make a specific list, let me just say that I am grateful for not only the folks who lead RISE, but for many of the attendees as well.

Yes, I wouldn’t have predicted many of the journeys that I’ve shared with the RISE community from late 2012 to the present day.  What is next?  Where will we go from here?  Who can say?

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