I live 2 miles north of a small community of just over 600 people. The area is rural. I look out my office window and see trees, fields, and the Church. It sounds so idyllic. The only problem is the INTERSTATE. Interstate 55, winding its way from St. Louis to Chicago happens to lie a couple hundred feet from my office. Of course, a tad closer are the remnants of the Mother Road - Route 66. St. Paul's sits right on the old Route 66, but literally three feet from Route 66 at this point is I-55.
It makes for an odd juxtaposition. Pr. Haun referenced it in his sermon yesterday, and I've felt it myself for a number of years. Here we sit and things change oh, so slowly here. But roaring by us night and day without let up is the highway. The Church and the world. The world in such hurry, racing and roaring, slaves to the urgent. And then the Church - in a way unmoving, set back and not just watching the world race by, but inviting the world to get off the highway for a while and enjoy the calm, the peace, the unchanging God whose merciful compassions never fail, for they are grounded in Jesus Christ who is the same, "yesterday, today, and forever."
It was a couple winters ago. There was a light snow on the ground. The early service had just let out - the day was the Sunday after Christmas. The organ was still playing the postlude. We looked up in amazement and a whole herd of deer were running through the meadow opposite the Church. There must have been 20 of them. Immediately I felt I was in the carol: "The Holly and the Ivy." It was a beautiful moment. But if you were racing down I-55, chances are very good you'd never have seen it. It was a sight visible only to those who had taken the exit and rested for a bit in the peace of God. "Be still and know that I am God."