Clergy from left, Deacon Cynthia Biddlecomb, retired; Pastor Nicolé Ferry, Associate Rector Lynn Finnegan and Pastor Deb Church. Courtesy photo
By Reverend Lynn Finnegan
The Episcopal Church of the Holy Faith
“First day of school” photos have been flooding social and news media this past week. More than 3,700 students enrolled in Los Alamos Public Schools this year. For many, back-to-school is a time of excited anticipation for the school year ahead, while others lament or are anxious and unsure. All, however, will be expected to step outside their comfort zones.
A comfort zone is a place where we are confident, secure, and content. It seems kinda counterproductive to encourage children to leave such a cozy place. Yet every Fall, we expect our children to step outside their personal “zones” because we know, empirically and from our own experience, that leaving “the comfort zone” is the path to growth. Or, as one cartoon I saw recently suggests, outside the comfort zone is “where the magic happens.” New kindergartners will walk into a room filled with unfamiliar faces. Those starting Middle School or High School for the first time will experience trepidation as they enter this new phase of development. And college students will face a whole new world of challenges and “adulting.”
In one biblical account of Jesus’ early ministry, Jesus walks by two men, who are curious enough to follow in behind him. Jesus turns and asks, “What are you looking for?” The two are startled and mumble something about wanting to know where he was staying. “Come and see,” Jesus replies. It is abundantly clear he is not talking about his lodging. He is extending them an open invitation to step outside their comfort zones and follow him. He doesn’t entice them with promises or shower them with platitudes. He doesn’t require them to sign an oath. He doesn’t ask for their immigration papers or their credit score or inquire as to their political party or sexual preference. He simply says, “come and see.” And they do, becoming his first disciples.
With students returning to school and facing the challenges and joys of stepping outside their comfort zones, it seems like a good time to examine our own faith “comfort zones.” For those who are considering walking into a church for the first time, or for the first time after a very long time, we know you are stepping outside your comfort zone. Come and see! If your post-pandemic routine has you lingering in a comfort zone with “zoom church,” come and see! As bestselling author and co-founder of Evolving Faith, Sarah Bessey wrote, “In a fractured and mobile and globalized world, intentional community, church, feels like a radical act of faith.” May the church doors you walk through be a source of healing and hope. We in church communities have an opportunity to step outside our comfort zones as well, examining traditions and practices that no longer serve to echo Jesus’ words of welcome, or worse, have served as obstacles to that welcome. May the church doors we open be a source of healing and hope.
What “zone” is holding you captive? Why not come and see?
Editor’s note: ‘All Shall Be Well’ is a semi-monthly column written by local women clergy (pastors and deacons) including, ELCA Deacon Cynthia Biddlecomb, M.Div., retired (firstname.lastname@example.org); Nicolé Ferry, Pastor, Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church (email@example.com); Lynn Finnegan, Assistant Rector, The Episcopal Church of the Holy Faith, Santa Fe (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Deb Church, Pastor, White Rock Presbyterian Church (email@example.com).