Did you know that Easter has 50 days of celebration in our church calendar? That’s seven Sundays of rejoicing! It is a joy to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with you and ponder what resurrection looks like in my life, and the life of this congregation.
One of our church members, noticing that Mark and I will soon be empty-nesters, loaned me a book about women of faith who find a second calling once the kids are grown. The book is “Second Calling: Passion and Purpose for the Rest of Your Life” by Dale Hanson Bourke. In her book, she describes retiring several times from her high-powered career and wondering “what’s next?” This question led her deeper into prayer and Bible study as she began to take the time to listen for God’s will in her life, and to practice discernment.
Our congregation is also leaving an era of high-activity and high-energy, and entering into a time of discernment about what’s next, given our location, our people, our building, and our very talented staff. Consequently, I have been reading a number of books on congregational life-cycles, redevelopment, and renewal. One of these books even had resurrection in its title. Do you see the parallels between these two types of reading material? I do.
Bourke’s book uses the biblical witness of Naomi as a metaphor for faithfulness in a time of rapid change. In our context, I prefer to use resurrection as a guiding metaphor. Consider the experience of the disciples as they see for themselves Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Everything around them had changed. In the days after Jesus’ crucifixion, they were afraid of their future and hid behind locked doors. The risen Jesus met them there – in their fear – and gave them a mission and a purpose. Jesus’ mission was not an easy one. They knew that they would be persecuted and even killed for their words and their actions. Even so, they left the locked room and proclaimed the good news of Jesus near and far. Some stayed in Jerusalem, others traveled to the ends of the known world. Thanks to their witness, we too believe in Jesus as the Son of God. We are a portion of their legacy. Thanks to their faithfulness, and the faithfulness of all the generations between them and us, we can worship God in this place at this time. That was their legacy. What is ours?
On my desk is a notecard that reads, “A prophet is not called to be successful, but to be faithful.” It is a daily reminder to me that success is not measured in attendance, in finances, or even in praise. Success for the Christian is measured in faithfulness. It is my prayer that as the session and congregation discern what it will look like to “Praise God Together in 2025,” that we remember that our highest goal is to be faithful to our calling as Christ’s disciples.