As of the 1st of June, I have been at FUMC for 12 years. In that time, you have allowed me the space to make mistakes, to learn, to grow, and to heal. For me, this has been a transformational space (which is why it is not hard for me to imagine and hope that it will continue to be for many others in the future). You have guided and taught me on my journey to be a good father and a good human being (ok at least better). I think being ‘good human being’ is just letting the potential God has within you come out. And I don’t believe that can truly happen apart from connection to God and to a community of faith.
In much the same way Paul did in his letter to the Philippians, I want to thank you not so much for what you have done, but for how ‘who you have chosen to be’ has encouraged my girls and me to become more than we could have imagined apart from the grace and love we experience among you.
One year ago, Scott described how wonderful it was for his family to have the blessing of growing up in New Iberia, I realized what an honor it is for him to have hired me, knowing I would be his children’s youth director. I acknowledge that sometimes we ministers can get lost in ‘the job’ and lose sight of the organic nature of this diverse eclectic group called our family of faith. As I journey back on the pastoral road, with greater passion because of you, it is important for me to remind myself and you of your importance to me, so that the power and passion of the following words are clear … “it has been an honor for me – for you to be ministers to my children.”
I tell you this for three reasons (and I am happy to step on my own toes in reminding you of the three). First, you need to understand and accept the power you have as a body of believers to change lives, impact destinies, and influence families for Christ. In my years of service, I have come to recognize that ‘shame’ has never built a healthy church or healthy people. It divides the soul of the individual and the church – a thumb pushing down on the spirit within us and among us. I have seen peace, joy, and confidence – in a nutshell, ‘gratitude’ – build transformative communities of faith – places where people are “converted, convicted, and consecrated by the Holy Spirit.” This power to be a transformative community cannot be confined to any building or controlled by anyone’s agenda. It flows through us as we chose to open ourselves to God’s transformational power – “to see visions … and dream dream” is the way Peter put it on Pentecost (quoting Joel).
Second, I believe the gospel. I believe it is ‘good news’ and at its core, it is about honesty. Personally, it about acknowledging who we are, who God is, and what he says he will do for us. Corporately, it about knowing what we are capable of, what he is capable of, and being open to his transforming power. The Good News is our job, our responsibility, and our calling … and I hope our passion and our pleasure.
Lastly, as you think of who you are in this community of faith or who God may be asking you to be here, remember the words of the passion shop keeper in You’ve Got Mail:
“Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.” (Meg Ryan)
While business has to be done within this community, this is not a business. It’s a church and the church is about praising a personal God and in the process ministering to the personal needs of those outside and inside of the community of faith. Focus on the end not the means to it, for often we look back and note “all roads lead to where you are” (Don McLean).Read more…