The way things ought to be

At the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, I came across a case of small figures that caught my attention. They were called “Billikens,” or “gods of the way things ought to be.” Each little figure had similar devilish features: slightly pointed ears, a wry grim, and eyes that seemed to say, “Are you sure you want it that way?” These are little gods to which we might all relate, for we each have an ideal of the way things ought to be.

These ideals include our thoughts about church: the perfect size; suitable topics for the sermon; how children, and some adults, should behave during worship; how to spend our resources. Over time, we learn to be generous enough to let others Billikens have some playful space in our community alongside ours. As long as our Billiken is satisfied once in a while, we let other Billikens run a little wild. We all have a god of the way things ought to be!

One time when Billikens make real trouble is when we let them handle the resources. You may have noticed in the recent past there has been a shift in how we handle our resources. Rather than “holding a little back” for a project that captures our imagination (leading to a cycle of perpetual asking for money), we focus on pooling as much of our generosity as we are able once a year, and then trust our leaders to guide us through the year. We take turns carrying the mantle of leadership, and that is one of the beautiful things about a growing community. There is an abundance of time, talent and treasure.

This is the time of year when we examine our hopes and dreams for the church, look at the vision cast by our beloved community, and give as much as we are able. Gone are the days of asking as a continuous act, and of jumping in to donate only when one’s personal Billiken is appeased. Now, once a year we turn to you and ask you to support with as much as you are able the ministries of this church. No matter if it’s the widow’s mite or a king’s ransom, may what you give bring you joy.

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