In 3 years a lot can happen.
The Savior of the world can come among us, begin ministry in his hometown of Nazareth (and subsequently almost get thrown off a cliff for it). In 3 years, Jesus can call a group of unlikely disciples to come and follow Him. They can follow Him around into homes, conversations, and places that good Jews should and shouldn't be. In 3 years, truth can be both taught and demonstrated, and in turn lives can be changed. People can spread the word about this Jesus and wonder just exactly who he is. In 3 years, Jesus can forge deep relationships with some, yet others can draw deep battle lines against him. A lot can happen in 3 years.
We all know the patterns of humanity that deep battle lines often culminate in violence and death. You may also know that at the end of approximately 3 years of Jesus walking among us in the Middle East that's precisely what happened. He was killed and placed in a tomb.
This brief stint of ministry is an unfortunately common length of service for many pastors in North America. Not many of those pastoral stories end in literal crucifixion like Jesus' story...yet many pastors are deeply wounded or have deeply wounded others in their own 3 years. This pattern should trouble us as the Church. We should pray earnestly - confessing our own contributions to this cycle, seeking healing, and asking God for the steps to a better way.
As Ray and I are just a few days away from our 3rd anniversary (October 25) of moving out to pastor in Hawai'i, I can't help but feel like we're just getting started. Neither of us are ready to move on, quit, or give up. For that I am so grateful...and I know our district superintendent is also grateful all the churches on the district finally have lead pastors. No one is allowed to leave!
|Our first picture as co-pastors of Connection Point Church of the Nazarene with our district superintendent Rick Power and his wife Vicki. Ray definitely grew facial hair since this photo.|
A lot has happened in 3 years here at Connection Point. I can say that there have been wounds w acquired, and wounds we've most likely given. We're not dead yet, and neither is the church praise God! In fact, new life is breaking in through baptisms, more people feeling calls to ministry, and lives continuing to slowly but surely - and sometimes dramatically - transform. New compassionate ministries to our community are on the horizon, and also in the small daily actions of our people throughout their weeks. People are beginning to grasp their integral roles in the body of Christ. We're admittedly still learning how to be the people of God together in the midst of our differences, but I am looking forward to what God will do in the next 3 years. I'm often tired at the end of the day, but always assured that this is precisely where we need to be.
|A couple pictures from Baptism Sunday at the beginning of this month.|
What's wonderful about the 3 years of Jesus' ministry is that the crucifixion is NOT the end of the story; in many ways, it's a beginning. Jesus rises from the dead fully alive, defeating death. Those who seemed to be in charge at the crucifixion are left astounded, fearful, or in denial when they catch word. God redeems death, the previous ending to anyone's story, and instead makes it pitstop on the way to life for our world. Jesus begins leading the way for all of us to move from death to life.
What will happen in the next 3 years in us and in the life of Connection Point Church of the Nazarene? I certainly don't have it all laid out or have some grand 3-year scheme...some might argue we should.
What I do know, is that Jesus our Savior will lead us through whatever dying and rising we need. Some of it will make sense and be exciting. Other parts may seem dark and painful. Yet we know the end of our story: life is coming. Jesus is leading the way! May we continue to follow where He leads for the next 3 years and beyond.