A Message Of Hope For This Moment
I was talking to a pastor friend of mine the other day, and we were reflecting on what has been the most extraordinary, and trying past year and a half that either of us has experienced as a pastor.
He told me that he is finding it harder and harder to summon the energy to stay positive, keep moving, try to inspire his congregation, do all of the things that need doing, and then some, and take on more and more responsibilities as his small staff, and church members grow wearier, too.
I've had more than a few conversations like that with colleagues over the past several months, including some with pastors, who have decided to re-think their life in ministry. They have come to the conclusion that "doing church" has changed so much, they no longer want to do it.
What I have also come to learn is that most of our church members are dealing with similar kinds of issues in their own lives, and work. Some days it feels like everything is just harder to do, am I right?
And when you add to that a nearly constant level of anxiety that seems to permeate everything and everyone around us, it can be hard to muster up the strength to get out of bed sometimes.
I know that feeling all too well. Plus, my bed is one of those Sleep Number affairs that adjust to all sorts of angles that are just flat comfortable. And my lower back hurts for some weird reason and all of a sudden, too. So, it's especially difficult to rise and grind right about now.
If you are wondering where this is going, and that maybe I'm about to make some sort of surprise announcement that I'm going to leave the pastorate and become a barista at Starbucks, don't worry. I'm not. In fact, I feel more called than ever to do what I do.
I'm learning that this moment we are in is just that... a moment. It will pass.
There might be other challenges ahead, for sure, but this moment will have an end, and probably soon. I'm energized by this, and by the chance to re-imagine what it means to do what I do and for the Church to emerge from all of this transformed, and hopefully more equipped to reach people who are longing for more in life.
This same mentality is one that can serve us all well. Where you are right now is just where you are right now. It doesn't have to be forever, and that's good news if where you are is a tough place to be.
There's this song on one of my playlists by the band The Paper Kites with these awesome lyrics that sum up what I'm trying to say here much more beautifully:
Like a summer sun falls
And the light just fades awayThere's a moon rising highTo keep you on your wayWhen you're lost in a dreamWhen you're lost in your headThat's just the place that you areAnd it's the road you're onThere's a time to restThere's a time to move on.
Jesus constantly taught his followers to be present at the moment, no matter what that moment was. He told them that there would be time for them to weep, lament, mourn and that they would probably long for a new day, and a new beginning.
But he also taught them that even the good moments are just moments. We have to embrace all of it, and realize that we might need to stop for a moment on our journey, take a look around, take stock of what we have to keep us going, and then move on to the future.
I am trying hard to internalize this profound teaching, which is part of all of the great traditions of faith. It's a universal truth---one that Jesus wanted his followers to fully embrace. It's not easy to simply be sometimes. We want to do. We want to fix things, to make everything right, to figure it all out before we start walking the path again.
But sometimes we need to simply realize that we are where are and that we won't be there forever. So we need to learn what is important to learn from our present circumstances, embrace the naked now of what it means to be fully present in the present, and then be ready to move when it's time.
May it be so for you today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.