On the morning of Sunday, August 29, 2021, I knew something was wrong as soon as I walked down the hallway toward the church office. It was the air. The air was not cool; it was warm, humid, and still.
I chose to focus on the logistics of getting the church ready for our outside worship service at 9 and our indoor worship service at 11. Thanks to COVID-19, our staff has worked diligently to create safe environments for our congregation to worship. While our attendance numbers are down, we sense that those who opt to attend per our health guidelines are enjoying our offerings. This is particularly noticeable for young families with children who attend the outdoor worship service. Our outside parking lot provides a comfortable environment, and families seem more relaxed. The eyes and ears of the congregation are not upon them like they are in the sanctuary, where any sound a child makes is amplified. The outdoor setting appears to absorb any racket made by children.
With my checklist complete, I turned my attention to the Trinity Hall wing. Why was there no cool air blowing? The chiller was not in alarm; the classroom thermostats were properly set; the air handlers were working. Then I checked the air compressor. It was silent. With our old pneumatic system, the air compressor must be working to provide cooling.
It was not my favorite thing to do on a Sunday morning, but I put in a call for service to the company who maintains our systems. I emailed our staff to let them know about this little challenge and reminded them that an uncooperative air compressor was nothing compared to what many people were facing—in Afghanistan, damage as a result of hurricanes like Ida, and our on going battle with COVID-19.
Quite often, when I think about our world today, I find myself having an internal conversation with God. “Hey, God, where are you? Can’t you see that we have multiple challenges? We need your help. Where is your touch that I read about in the Bible? Why not reach down and touch Afghanistan? Why aren’t you steering Ida away? Why don’t you push back COVID-19? Are you up there? Do you see this? Are you listening? Have you given up on us?”
But then I think, God is an easy target. When something goes wrong, we can always blame God. I think a bit further, and say to myself, “You know, Bill, you can’t leave it all to God. What are you doing to help God?” And then I am just as silent as that broken air compressor.
When the HVAC technician arrived, I explained what I had found. I left him to probe, and it wasn’t long before he had the air compressor back to its reliable self. Patiently, the technician explained that we must have lost a phase of power, which took the compressor off line. He gave me a couple of pointers about the compressor, and I thanked him for his time and wisdom.
It doesn’t matter where we look—church buildings or our world—we have frustrating challenges. Those challenges are the reason why I should hang on to these words from Romans 12:12: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (NIV).
I’m a retired educator. Currently, I work for my church as Director of Operations. My favorite use of spare time is tinkering with words. With help, I have self-published three books for children. We have a fourth book on the way now. Additionally, I have a blog called Might Be Baloney: https://mightbebaloney.blog/. My posts are about wobbling through life at home, at church, and in community. I thank the staff of The Upper Room for giving me this opportunity. Be safe. —Bill Pike
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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