Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The season of Easter continues for our family of faith. Springtime seems reluctant to appear but the promise of warmer temperatures, flowers blooming, and green grass growing is present. I am reminded of God’s promises even when they do not seem to come true on my personal time table! We are not in control and sometimes that bothers us. Spiritual discernment teaches us to trust the promise.
During April, we have listened in worship to the texts describing the stories of resurrection appearances by Jesus. We imagine the disciples hiding and huddled in fear. The disciples were fearful because the arrest and death of Jesus was horrible news. More importantly, they were fearful of being sought out by authorities. They were fearful because they too might be called to defend their faith, to die for the message that Jesus taught, preached and lived. Do you remember when your dreams were gone and expectations were dashed? The future was unknown without his leadership. Fear and uncertainty can bring discord. Who was going to be in charge? Jesus again and again repeated a greeting, “Peace be with you.”
The disciples like all of us tend to look to one leader to solve problems and be there for us. I often hear, “If we just got the right pastor this time!” Too often we want leaders to do just what we want them to do. Pastors and church leaders often face the tension inherent in a church’s mission and ministry by comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Someone is always going to be complaining or unhappy. This is human nature and it is the church of Jesus Christ.
In the church we have learned that the strongest witness of faith is a team effort. We are not a social club of do-gooders. We are the Body of Christ and it should scare us and make us wonder if we are up the task. When the church is called to be Jesus in the world, humility is needed. We speak the truth in love. We remember our “Congregational Covenant.” We live our lives as wise people of faith ever expanding and elastic to the changes around us and to the foundations of faith we have built. We live with hope and courage. We live into what it means to be an Open and Affirming church. We face our fears and trust one another. We discern God’s will within committees. We revere individuals who seek to change what ceases to be life-giving in the church. We recognize all people need to be challenged to follow Jesus. We hope everyone feels empowered to focus on growth and goodness, inclusion and understanding. This means we all contribute to the health and well-being of the church with our commitment of time, talent, money and love. We do not look only to one person, even a pastor, to make us feel comfortable and certain. We work together moving toward a common purpose traveling on common ground.
Jesus came to change the world. Identifying the change that needs to take place is essential. To explore and articulate the purpose of our church can involve the tedious work of listening and learning. It is not always about action as much as being reflective and naming the concerns we share. After a consensus is reached, we move forward to developing ways to live with purpose. As a trained intentional interim serving in Walpole, I continue to seek what it is the church hopes to be in the future.
Our cultural and political landscape has brought us to our knees. We cannot avoid the discord all around us, hoping someone else will make things better. God is calling us out of hiding and out of our fears to trust God’s promises even when we think Spring should already be here!
God bless you and keep you, Pastor Christine