Brothers, Sisters, Family,
In these days, for me summer vacation (I’m a 7th grade science teacher by trade), I have some greater measure of time to read, pray, and reflect. What is clearer right now for me than it’s ever been in the past is, there is a longing in each of us to belong, a want to be wanted, valued, appreciated, connected. I believe deep down we realize our inestimable worth, our irreplaceable gifts, talents and personalities. Those feelings speak volumes and at the core is this, you and I are made in the image of God and those feeling speak truth in light of that. We want to feel that when we’re alone but, even more so in the company of others. Deep, lasting, satisfying relationships draw out and foster those feelings. It’s the stuff of movies and fantasy novels, but a real, living desire, what we’re made for.
Saying that, I say being the pastor of Center Church of the Brethren for the past two years (It’s been that long already!?!?) has been one of the best, most challenging and most rewarding experiences of my life. I love people! God’s taught and is teaching me how. If you don’t believe it, take a look at that job description again. Yes. It says 7th grade! That’s middle school. Remember that? Yes. They’re crazy, they’re immature, their weird, awkward, impulsive yet altogether amazing and so worthy of my love and attention. For all the crazy they’re creative, thoughtful, beginning questioners with budding talents and, with that, a whole lot of fun! When they work together it can be a blast and some of the best memories are made there. When they’re at each other’s throats it can be rough, a challenge. Yet it is, just as you would expect someone who’s willingly subjected themselves to this, a rewarding challenge. Though not all those adjectives apply, it’s not that different from church because it’s not that different from people in general.
Loving to love is truly what Jesus did best. Are we talented? Are we crazy? Are we beautiful? Are we at times difficult to love? Well, He loved us just the same didn’t He? Read the Gospels, watch Jesus walk, witness His life. You can hear it in His voice and see it in His responses, the beautiful challenge. His bride the church can be rough, but she’s beautiful. She can be a little out of sorts at times, but wow does she amaze when she gets it all together! Aren’t those better times worthy of our pursuit? Jesus pursued us to the Cross of His own demise, through death and beyond the grave and, even still today, scripture says He ever lives to make intercession for us.
Hebrews 7:25 says, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Such a
lasting commitment! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to come back to this? No. I’m not talking about the glory days of Center. I wasn’t even there and usually they’re not quite so glorious as we remember.
I’m talking about coming back to the beauty of these hard won, lasting relationships that make Center what she’s meant to be and loving her through. Would you commit yourself again to loving others?
Would we commit ourselves to crazy, to weird? God committed Himself to us! God seemed to think we were worthy of bending all of history to redeem us to Himself at the cost of His own Son. Inestimable
worth? Irreplaceable gifts, talents and personalities? He seemed to think so!
Those of you who are here week to week (even day to day) let’s gather together! Let’s invite others in. Every new person is another opportunity to love well and to learn to love. Difficulties will only deepen our wells. Those of you who it’s been awhile, would you come back? Let’s try to do it again!
Thank you loving me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to try and love you well. I’ll do my best. Thank you for doing yours.