Remember Gumby who was once a little green slab of clay? As a character made of clay, Gumby could change, shift and transform to fit any situation, THAT Gumby! I’m reminded of Gumby and of a common phrase borrowed from the Marines’ motto, uttered countless times in military circles in recent years, “Semper Gumby.” It’s become so common, you can see countless images and articles popping up on your computer as soon as you enter the term!
We military types learn early on how important it is to always stay flexible. I mention this because just last week my whole unit is having to change our drill schedule because of one person’s retirement ceremony. Sounds excessive, except that the one person retiring is the highest ranking Chaplain in the US Army Reserves, and is retiring to the area around my new unit. Unfortunately, he didn’t check our church calendar first, and put his retirement ceremony (near Pittsburgh) right on top of our pet blessing service on Sept. 19. And it’s a “command performance”: with my being the sr. Chaplain with the hosting command, I need to be there. Semper gumby!
COVID has brought the Semper Gumby mindset to the church too, flexing to change how we do worship, and even to go back and forth between streaming worship inside and outside. But like in my Army world where “mission comes first,” that phrase seems to fit our church world well too, where “mission comes first” as well. I heard a comment recently of someone saying something like “One of the blessings of COVID is that we don’t seem to be arguing any more about the color of the carpet, but focused how to do ministry instead.”
Our United Methodist mission is “To make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Here at Twin Falls Church, we live “Passion for God, Compassion for People.” Neither of those guiding mottos suggest anything about worshipping in a particular way, place or time, nor do they put many limits on how we do other forms of outreach—only that they be driven by our mission to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!
A line often attributed to our (accidental) founder of the Methodist movement puts it succinctly in a way that doesn’t even sound all that religious: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” Semper Gumby again!
Even within our COVID environment limitations, we can still work that discipleship piece and “Do all the good you can,” even if in ways we might not have just a few months ago. And if you’re not certain how, I’m sure we could come up with something together—let’s talk! Semper Gumby!