Guy Noir, Garrison Keilor's detective character, is always,"seeking answers to life's persistent questions." Truth is we'd all like clear, quick answers to questions like: What should I do next? Is this the right time and place for this? What does God want? What should my church/community/group do next/now?
In truth there are few easy answers. Psalm 62 starts, "For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation." Psalm 121 begins, "I lift up my eyes to the hills--from where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth." Answers come in waiting, working, things bigger than ourselves--all the places that take commitment and time. Answers come from things, the One, bigger than ourselves.
Along the way on this Study-Renewal journey I have met a seminary student, several pastors, church interns, people of all sorts and all seem to rejoice in the time to renew, listen for God and to learn. One pastor said "I'm jealous." and another reflected, "It's important to have that time as we serve longer pastorates." Although there seems to be a broad recognition of the need for renewal, listening and learning (the stuff of prayer), there is also a confession that few people of faith and congregations take time to meet the need. We have a great start!
Having seen the sites of John Wesley's first mission work in Georgia and reviewed his assessment of the effort as a failure, I'm reminded that answers come with time, work, waiting and needing help. I expect to come home with new questions, ideas and conversations to hold. (See previous posts.) I suspect that I will come bearing no easy or quick solutions to our congregation's struggles to make disciples and grow.
So, if we want answers, then we prepare for holy conversations with Holy Spirit redirections. If we want new possibilities, then we commit to time with God and one another in fresh ways. In September we're planning to have a dinner (I hope covered dish) and a time for representatives from Palmyra First to share learnings & insights from the summer. Also I'll share a few learnings and insights. I anticipate that from there we'll continue the conversation around tables (food tables, the Lord's Table, meeting tables, kitchen tables, restaurant tables...), maybe even a monthly food and conversation around a lunch, dinner or dessert!
Yes, I'm seeking answers to life's persistent questions! It will take effort and require persistent patience. We'll do it together and the report of 2000 years of followers of Jesus Christ is that God has never let us down!
I trust you will keep praying, learning, resting and sharpening one another, while I commit to doing the same. I look forward to seeing you soon.
10,000 Joys in Christ
Student and Disciple Pastor Dave