Life In Diversity
ec·o·tone / ˈekəˌtōn,ˈēkəˌtōn/ Noun ECOLOGY
1. a region of transition between two
A few years ago, someone introduced me to this wonderful word: ecotone. I liked it immediately, and my love for it only grew when the person went on to tell me this. Ecotones—these complex places of diversity—thrive with life.
I want to invite you to see our church– your church—as a potential ecotone. And, I want to encourage you to live into the diversity of our church family.
We are seeing the diversity of our body in a number of ways. It’s present whenever the women’s Bible Study gathers in one end of the building and the daycare children play on the other end. You can see it as we gather for worship with our pew of older widows in the back who arrive fifteen minutes before church starts and the younger families who find their way in somewhere before the passing of the peace.
We are young; we are old. We are single; we are married. We are liberal; we are conservative. And, if you include our daycare, we are people who are very familiar with our church tradition, and we are those who might find our style of worship foreign.
Now, the next step is to bring these unique worlds together. The next step is to move beyond just existing in our mono-culture, but to find the richness of life in the crazy, messy, complex ecotone of this particular place. Can you think of a way you might step into our church’s ecotone? When you come for that Bible Study, can you venture on down to the daycare wing, pop your head in and say hello? When we have our fellowship time in Browning Hall, can you talk to someone you have never met before?
Here is another great idea. Throughout this month, we are going to celebrate several meals together—including the SAWs kick-off luncheon on Sunday, April 6th. Why not make sure to sit at a table with some people you don’t know as well?
In the month to come, we will also have another great way to bring our older and younger generations together. As Confirmation continues, Brady Rhodes will be working to find mentors for our confirmands. Don’t be surprised if you get a call from him—inviting you to play an important role in helping some of our younger members learn what it means to follow Jesus.
There is a vast richness of life in our church community, and it can be a great blessing. Yet, we have to be intentional in making sure we live into this strength. That goes for both sides. Our younger families need to find the rich treasures of wisdom hidden in our older members, and our older members need to step forward and take on the joyful responsibility of caring for and empowering our younger families.
Thankfully, we can take courage knowing that we’re not the first community to face the potential challenges and craziness that is a church ecotone. Paul certainly faced it a number of times as he sought to nurture life in the young Christian churches. He wanted them to look beyond their mono-culture of being “Greeks or Jews, “male or female,” “slave or free,” and I imagine he’d be encouraging us to move beyond our own labels in order to see our oneness in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). May the Lord make our church body a diverse community—linked by our common love for Jesus.