Editor’s Note: This is almost certainly the last piece Fletcher Lowe wrote in this life. Less than 12 hours after he emailed it to me, Fletcher died in his sleep, in his apartment in Richmond, VA. His wife, who proofread this blog entry before Fletcher sent it, believes he may have had a premonition that it was his last writing.
In addition to his many Episcopal Church honors and recognitions, Fletcher, who was named a a correspondent of the year in 2019 by the Richmond Post-Dispatch (RTD), was a founding member of the Virginia Interfaith Center and was executive director from 1998 to 2004. He also was a member of the RTD Opinions’ Community Advisory Board. Here you’ll find one of his columns.
by Fletcher Lowe
“The real play goes on after you leave the theater.” Words of wisdom from a Broadway actor whose name I have unfortunately lost.
But I do remember former US Senate Chaplain Richard Halverson, who put those words specifically in a Christian context: “Whether you are a pilot, plumber, pastor, physician, or working to meet innumerable legitimate human needs at an office, construction site, or home, you are working for God!”
The question is, how often do Christians feel that at their work bench, they are working for God? According to a recent Center for Faith at Work survey, only 30% of Christians “can clearly see the work they are doing is serving God….” In my own personal survey – having visited over 400 Christians in their places of work – about 80% said our conversation of connecting faith with work was the first time that subject had ever been raised. What an indictment on the Church, that the place where Christians who work spend most of their God- given time and talent is not a focus of interest for the Church? Is this not at the core of what our faith is about? “The real play does go on after you leave the theater.” A congregation, rightly perceived, serves as a launching pad, a filling station, a base camp where people go for support before going to “the real play.”
That is why, for some of us, the Dismissal at the end of worship is the most important part of the Sunday Liturgy. What are the hymns and readings and prayers and sermons all about but helping “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” (Ephesians 4:12) Preparing for the launch, getting the fuel for the journey, being supplied for the hike. “And now Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do….” “Let us now go forth into our worlds of work and community and home, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.” (Book of Common Prayer, p.366, adapted)