This year, the Lenten season finishes in mid-April. During this season, we are encouraged to think more deeply of the ministry of Jesus, re-examine how we are following his teachings and his pattern for our lives. During this Lenten season, one Sunday morning I invited this congregation to make this also a season of prayer for this congregation. You are facing some real challenges, and you need to make each day a time of taking your prayers for your future to the Lord. The other side of that is that you also need to be taking the time to listen for the Lord’s response to your prayers. I also asked that you not pray for the Lord to restore this church to what it used to be, but to make it what the Lord wishes this church to become for the next months and years. The truth is that the church of the 1960’s or 1980’s is no longer what reaches out to people. You need to become what touches people for the current times, and the ability to change as needed into the future.
That means changes. It calls you to allow changes to be made in events that have happened for many years. It calls you to allow some programs or events to be led by other people that may have been led by others for many years. It calls you to be open to different styles of worship to become a part of how you lift your praise to the Lord. This doesn’t mean that everything will change all at one time. But as different options are presented, you need to be open to trying them out instead of shutting them down without a fair hearing.
While I didn’t say anything about praying for patience and greater displays of kindness, I hope that will be a part of the results of praying for this church. I continue to see actions and to hear words that are not what one hopes to experience when in contact with other Christians. And reactions to such unkindness are more in the light of the poor experience than in acts of kindness expected from Christians. You are not always nice to others, and I want that to stop. It isn’t a good way to present this congregation to the community OR to each other.
As we come to Holy Week, I pray that our prayers will grow ever deeper, ever more meaningful, as we walk that last week with Jesus. Our Palm Sunday service will start our week. We will gather for a Maundy Thursday service on April 18 – a Service of Shadows. Come, listen to the words of Jesus, offer your prayers, receive communion as you prepare your own hearts for the darkness of the coming two days. Then on April 21, come together as we celebrate the Power of Resurrection – a Sunrise Service at 7:00 a.m., at Indian Pines Park, then our service of celebration here at the church at 10:00 a.m.
Find your own pathway through the rest of Lent and Holy Week so that you will be ready for the resurrection. It will empower you to move forward in love and joy as we continue to prepare for the future.