Have you ever had a big goal for yourself? Perhaps its writing a novel, painting your house, or jumping out of an airplane? Or learning to play Satie or Chopin on the piano? Become debt free?
About 17 years ago I decided someday I would train and race a triathlon. I didn’t know when. But someday I would. In 2007 I realized that dream. I finished last in my age group, but I finished. I decided to take that journey again, so I’m training for one in July.
I think that it took a long time because deep down, I didn’t believe I could. I wonder if I was afraid of failing.
This Sunday, like most “low Sundays” is when we read about “Doubting Thomas.” I imagine Mr. Thomas as the reserved, skeptical pessimist who always knows all the facts. He’s the person you turn to when you need an honest opinion, the reasons not to take a desired course of action. He’s practical. He’s smart. But he’s not enthusiastic or idealistic.
But Thomas, though he doubted, was not afraid. There are always good reasons to know all the facts, to be realistic, to understand that actions have consequences. But finally, he stood up and recognized what he needed to.
We face “doubting Thomases” in our own life all the time. We have tons of reasons not to take risks, demand the best, or think big. After all, we’ve got phones to answer, laundry to do and twitters to tweet. Our daily distractions inhibit us from asking ourselves, what orients our life? What is the one grand thing that will give us meaning, that directs us to attempt what seems impossible?
The other evening, one of our parishioners boldly prayed for World Peace. I thought that this was quite audacious. It reminds me of the concept “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” (pronounced BEE-hag). In our personal life it might be getting rid of all our debt; it might be cleaning out our house so that it is free of clutter; it might be just being able to sell everything and take that trip to Antarctica. It could be changing the lives of young people in our community.
Or it could mean a change for our church: that our parish seek to become the premier place for innovative, justice oriented Christian worship in the Northeast! Perhaps that we seek to be a place of best practices – not merely seek to survive. It could mean that we strive to have the most powerful, eclectic music program in the region. But it is these sort of goals- those beyond our reach, those that require 10-30 years of work – that can give us a sense of mission and calling.
Now I know you have doubts. Of course you do. Some big goals might be a bit beyond our reach. I’m not going to win a world-series ring, or become an olympic swimmer, or the chief neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins. St. Barts isn’t seeking to replace the Vatican.
But I submit to you, that the resurrection is our time to consider what our big hairy and audacious goal is for St. Barts. I know you will have doubts. Living them out might get hairy. But I will tell you – if we truly want it, it lies before us.