… “am I ever gonna catch a break?”
Seems like life goes non-stop. Catch a break? Sure. Take a break? A must. Give someone else a break? Duh! But, as long as we’re living and breathing, there will be just one more thing to do. Even if that thing is… ‘stop.’
I’ve always liked Martin Bell’s quote about the church being God’s ‘rag-tag’ army… his words stretch out over the eons from the beginning of all things ’til now…
“I think God must be very old and very tired…. God’s been on the march a long time, you know. And look at God’s rag-tag little army! All he has for soldiers are you and me.”
[The Way of the Wolf”]
Ministry never ends, then. It’s a reflection of God… the one who has no beginning OR ending! It’s hard work. For all of us! We all count! We all are involved. For better for worse, in sickness and in health, etc, etc. Someone said, ‘you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.” True. Someone also said, ‘you can lead a horse to water and make it awful thirsty.” True as well. We live in a world where so many know where the water is. Yet, so many now are hesitant or down-right refuse to drink. Ministry IS hard work. But, as the baptized people of God, we are the “water-bearers” for the thirsty world we reside in and are part of. Are we part of the solution or perpetuators of the problem? Do we carry our water jugs into the world? Do we know where our water jugs are? What’s in it for us? Who has tossed their water jug into the streets… now broken into a thousand pieces? Do we know the ‘source’ of the saving water we bear? It runs shallow to deep! From time to time, there are questions that need to be both asked and answered.
One of my favorite ministry lines is the one you find at the top of this page… from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin… “trust in the slow work of God!” We must. I do. It’s what keeps me going; and it’s the ‘good news’ of Jesus that does this rather than the ‘bad news’ I get bombarded with day after day. True? Yes! And get this… on any given Sunday, less than 20% of America is in a house of worship. That doesn’t seem to be bad news for the 80+%. They claim to have found something more meaningful on those days. On any given Sunday about 2/3 of the members of New Life (the congregation I serve) are not at worship. But, that’s not news, good or bad… just a reportable fact, as it reflects a major trend in most churches in America like ours. People attend when it’s seems right for them with little concern of God’s commandment of keeping the Sabbath a ‘holy’ day and the rhythm and focus on the balanced life we’re promied. So, we have to ask… ‘is this helping God’s mission?’ and JFTR… I know where they live. God does, too!
Our Gulf Coast Synod leadership has adopted a strategy for growing our congregations… one by one… for the sake of our own selves and the world… and that is how it must be… because we will never get the world together, if we can’t get ourselves together first. This is key to our collective and corporate future… in just a 2 page document…
This is my synopsis…
- God desires all people to come into a life‐giving relationship with God and one another. Christian community is God’s hope for the good of the world;
- God desires our congregations to grow both in spirit and numbers! We are led by the embracing of the life of Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. God is making this growth happen.
- The time is now for God’s people to embrace the urgency of our purpose in calling men and women into relationship with Jesus, for the good of the world. If not us, who? If not now, when?
- The diversity of people is a great gift of God who wants to grow congregations that are inclusive and representative of the communities in which God has planted them.
- Every person has an important “God story” to tell: both the good news of God’s love in Jesus for all, and the story of our own personal faith journey.
- Effective evangelism is responsive, not intrusive. Listening closely to others guides us in effectively sharing our faith with them.
SEE LINK: http://worshiptimesmedia.s3.amazonaws.com/gulfcoast/files/2013/01/STRATEGIC-PLAN-FINAL-simple1.pdf
Where I live, New Life Lutheran Church starts its 10th year of ministry at the end of this month. But, our roots are deeper… 1961 and 1969 and 1930 and the 1800’s and the 1500’s and all the way back to Jerusalem… JFTR… and each person has come with God’s ‘new life’ within them or this ‘new life’ is something to be discovered and treasured as ‘gift!” So, this is our time… in Christ we’ve caught a break… come… someone else is looking for a break… come often… you may miss out on the break you’ve been looking for… and invite…invite relentlessly… and together we will trust in the slow work of God!
… and I heard him murmur…
“… am I ever gonna catch a break?”
Sure! We’re all travelers… sojourners for a brief moment in time… all of us… and all God has for the time being… and all God needs…