It was low Sunday at Holy Spirit, Bullhead City, but still a healthy turnout of 34 people including 4 first time visitors and 3 folks to be received. More green shoots than I saw last year on a higher Sunday. On Easter they had 11 children present. Not bad for a congregation that was understandably greying. Bullhead is a retirement Mecca. I met several other people, other than the visitors, who I am quite sure were not there last year. All in all, quite a bit of vitality out there in the Mojave.
They were once again quite warm and welcoming, though they do miss Fr. Lionel whenever he is not there and the downside of my annual visit is that they miss their priest who serves at St. Matthew's when I am covering Holy Spirit. Fr. Lionel has served this congregation faithfully and they are flourishing with his care. Fr. Tim Swonger also drives down to Bullhead from Las Vegas once a month. Holy Spirit would be fantastic if they had more support, but they are doing great with what they've got, and they are getting more support than other congregations like Pioche, Tonopah, and Yerrington. We are doing our best with the loaves and fishes in our basket.
The stress of the day for that congregation is that the Water Company has retroactively changed them from residential to commercial billing, which will wipe out half their bank account tonight. I talked with them about ways to deal with the Water Company and suggested ways the Dioceese might help if that doesn't work. It's church in the real world. Boilers. Roofs. And utility bills. All the stuff that people can skip by being "spiritual but not religious" -- meaning keeping their faith unsullied by reality. As for me, I'll cast my lot with the real folks at Bullhead trying to be Christains while the Imperial Water Company sends in the lions.
One troubling question: I stopped off at Cafe 95 on my way out of town for a caffeine fix for the road. In response to my polite inquiries about her welll-being, the waitress said. "I'm doing alright -- for a Sunday -- not my favorite workday." To which I replied, "I guess you get pretty busy." She said, "Yeah but the problem is customers on Sunday are so rude!" "Why do you suppose that is?" I asked. She said, "I guess they've just gotten yelled at for an hour." Hmmm. Yes, I was in full purple shirted, pectoral cross, backward collar clerical attire. She knew quite well who she was talking to, and thought I needed to know this.
I hope our preachers don't yell at people for an hour, but it does make me wonder what kind of mood are our folks in as they go out into the world? How do they treat the world while they are freshly washed in the dew of faith? And what might we need to learn from the Fellowship For Faith In Daily Life? Have you ever been cut off in traffic by a driver with a religous emblem on his or her car? I have. It made me feel irreligious. Are we proclaiming gospel out in the world? Are we empowering each other to proclaim gospel when we gather for worship? When it comes to gospel sharing of God's love, are we doing more harm than good? Are we getting the word out that we do Christainity differently and are we doing it differently enough to make a difference? Just questions to ponder.