Leave the Lights On

I remember hearing a commercial for a hotel chain a few years back that always ended with: “we’ll leave the lights on.” My guess is that it was a pretty successful slogan; it sure stuck with me all these years. I love seeing a house with the lights left on!
One of those weird, intangible comforts for me, as fall’s bright blue weather gives way to winter’s long dark nights, is to see homes all lit up from the inside. I always imagined when I was a kid that houses were full of happy families. If only it were true! Still, there is just something so hopeful about a bright light burning in a dark night. If you follow this blog at all, no doubt you will begin to hear repeating themes: my thoughts have been known to run in circles. One theme I’m grinding on of late is to try and define the purpose of church, particularly this church, in an age when institutions just don’t seem to serve the same purposes they used to serve.
One of the purposes that keeps getting reinforced is simply this—we’re here to keep the lights on. We have a lot of funerals at Brookdale, and we throw a pretty good sendoff party, if I do say so myself. Families gather in grief and loss and we get plenty of practice at the Christian discipline of hospitality. Inevitably, a family member, perhaps someone who was in the church when they were children, will pull me aside and thank us “for keeping the lights on”. Around here, memorial services are like family reunions. Old friends reconnect and the fellowship hall downstairs is buzzing with conversation, tears, and laughter. It’s a great service to offer in this day and age when mobility takes us in so many far-flung directions. It’s kind of like being the old family homestead where the relatives can all go visit and remember their roots.
Brookdale is an old church in the sense that we have been on the corner of Hwy 100 and Brooklyn Blvd. since the 1950’s. But there are many ways that we are a young church too….we’re trying to stay open to what is fresh (like our Tov Community Garden) and new (like whatever the Spirit may be inviting us to). So when I get in my moods and start wondering what we are really here for, I know one of the reasons is just to keep the lights on. That is no small thing. If you drive by, and see our lights on, I hope you know you are always invited to drop in. Hungry people drop in, and we do our best to get them food. Kids stop in and they get help with their school work. Lonely people drop in and they get introduced to friends and family. People who just need to know there is hope stop in, and they get to hear it, and feel it and I hope, know it. It really goes on and on.
When Jesus said He was the light of the world, he wasn’t kidding. When he said we are supposed to be like a light on a hill, he wasn’t messing around with metaphors. We only get it right some of the time, and when we miss it, it hurts us and it hurts others. But I can say in all honesty, we are trying to please Jesus and light up this corner of Brooklyn Center and North Minneapolis. So, if you ever get weary of the road you’re on, and you need a little rest, com’on in. We’ll leave the lights on. Grace and Peace to you, Pastor Renee