12/15/2015 1:17:42 PM
Dear friends in Christ,
Summer again, drought again, storms again, floods again. As the seasons of the earth turn so the seasons of our lives turn - though more slowly. We can divide a long life into twelve months in our minds -- yet the monthly transition is hard to define. But to divide our lives into seasons is not so hard. We can certainly fudge the transition times and for most people winter is the shortest (though there are exceptions). Most of us like to extend young adult and middle age as late as possible! But a day comes when it hits us that we have moved on into the next season. As those realizations come we have new opportunities to expand our lives - to learn new things or ways of doing things. Our relationships may change as we have different experiences. We move from single to couple to parent to grandparent. (Not everyone of course -- but there are other transitions for those who never marry or have children.)
What season are you in? When did you realize you had moved on to that stage? Wherever you are in the seasons of life you have opportunities to serve God and witness to Jesus. Those opportunities extend to all those who are baptized. When you pick up your annual church report do you ever think about the logo and phrase on the cover? We, the people of God, are united through the cross. That Christian unity is beyond the bonds of family, friendship, or patriotism. It is a bond even beyond the grave and extending into the future with those believers yet unborn. That bond says we are all in this together and all bear responsibility for the future of the church.
More than unity though I want to think about the first part of the phrase: We, the people of God.... What does it mean to be the people of God? Certainly it means we are part of the church, the body of Christ. It also means we have been set apart for God's service in our baptism. Sometimes we are tempted to think that service is primarily about our congregation - but that is not the mission Christ calls us to. Christ calls us to the great commission We are to help take the Word to all the world, teaching and baptizing. We do not carry out that task alone however. It is, after all, a CO-mission. Jesus said the comforter would come after He left. The Holy Spirit has been sent to help and sustain us. But the hands and feet and voices that carry out the task must be ours.
Along with the Great Commission Jesus gave us the Great Commandment, to love one another as Christ loves us. It is in living out that love that we can accomplish the mission of the church - to carry on the faith, to spread the word, to baptize new Christians and create new congregations. While every congregation has particular responsibilities and tasks we all share the larger mission of Christ. I would ask you to think and pray about how we can be better disciples in our common mission. Below are parts of two prayers from the ELCA discipleship effort. Please join me in praying them as we look to the future.
Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child. Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me.
You sent your Son to call all people to become his disciples.
Inspire us to grow as followers of Christ.
Send us to boldly reach out, invite and grow into Jesus and the community that bears his name.
In Jesus' Name we pray.
Pondering with you the turn of the seasons,
in Christ's love and service,
Pastor Joseph Tallent