It’s Wednesday, as I’m writing this. I have an hour to kill. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, where I came not so much for the coffee but for the free wifi, and the wifi is broken. I keep getting an error message on my screen, saying “cannot connect.”
It’s a first-world problem, sure. But in this moment, it’s frustrating. And annoying. And even a little bit isolating, as I sit here alone with a coffee I don’t particularly want, unable to see what my five Facebook notifications are all about. (That was a joke, guys…)
Cannot connect. Those words have been cycling around my head for weeks now. Cannot connect.
This seems to be a theme in my conversations lately. I’ve been so happy to be meeting people from all walks of life - some fellow pastors, some fellow mommies, some neighbours - and in my conversations, I keep hearing different versions of the same story.
A number of people have told me stories about how they used to go to church, or they used to prioritize faith, or the used to believe this or do this (whatever “this” is), but then something happened. Something broke, someone died, something got lost, someone said something ridiculous or hurtful (or, more often, both), and they stopped believing or going or caring. And now, they just cannot connect to what used to be so important to them.
Or there’s another story I often hear: something is happening or has happened or will happen that keeps one segment of people separated from another. And they just cannot connect. To each other, to themselves, to the world around them, to God.
And in all these stories, those involved are frustrated. They’re annoyed. Their isolated.
We people - we human beings - need to connect.
We need to connect with others. We need to connect with our communities. We need to connect with friends and family and neighbours and co-workers. And, ultimately, we need to connect with something bigger than ourselves. With God.
One thing I deeply miss here in Oshawa is an easy place to connect with others in my neighbourhood. In Seattle, it was so easy to walk down the street to a coffee shop or a bookstore or a cafe with my daughter, sip a good drink and enjoy some good food while my daughter played at a train table on in a toy room, and feel…connected. To have a conversation with a friend or a fellow regular at my local cafe or even just people watch a bit and notice what’s happening in the neighbourhood.
Maybe I just haven’t found them yet, but there seem to be few spaces like that in Oshawa - at least in my little segment of Oshawa. There are kid-friendly coffee shops and cafes, yes, but they require my squirmy girl to sit in a high chair, not be her toddler self and play with toys. There are classes to sign up for and programs to buy into, but then it’s harder to have a good conversation with a new friend (and even harder for some to afford). There are big indoor play spaces with areas for parents to sit or play with their kids, but going there always feels like such an excursion, not a quick simple outing. There are lots of places to go, but not lots of places to simply and easily connect.
So - what if the church stepped into that hole? What if the church became the place that made space to build those connections? What if the church became a home where it’s easy to connect, no matter who you are or how much money you have or what your background is?
I don’t have a whole lot of answers around these thoughts yet - more questions and dreams and seeds of ideas. But I pray that this church, this new community of faith, may never be a place where someone cannot connect.
Some of you receive regular prayer updates from me, which often appear here on this blog, too. This week - join me as I pray for connection. Pray that this new community of faith, whatever it will look like, will be a place of connection. Connection to others and connection to God.