I like how this passage declares victory for those of us in the faith! I'm reminded of the iconic film Titanic when Jack spreads his arms wide on the bow of the ship and yells out, "I'm king of the world!"
There are times in life when we feel like we are indeed masters of all we survey. But if we are honest with ourselves, we may not always share the same enthusiasm in quite the same moment as those around us. This picture laughably reminds us that our sense of victory may not be a communal feeling!
As I am winding up my time as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Edmond, I am excited about my upcoming post as the Crossroads District Superintendent. But when people ask me about it, I have not always responded very enthusiastically. A part of this is the weight of responsibility that I feel in taking on this position. As we come off a pandemic in a very divisive time in our country, I recognize that pastors are more stressed than at any time in my life. Of course, we also have the divisiveness within The United Methodist Church with some pastors, congregations and individual church members seeking to start a new denomination.
So with my job largely being to bring stability during anxiety, I may sometimes feel like the man in the picture above!
Another reason for downplaying my new appointment is the sense that I don't want my current congregation to feel jilted by my leaving. There is always going to be some of this when a pastor moves from one congregation to another whether the system is done by appointments like ours or in a call system like a Baptist church. But it is important that a congregation do not see themselves as victims in a system that is out to get them. If this were the case, I would never have been appointed to this congregation in the first place. Rather, pastoral change is inevitable. The reason may be a church opening, retirement or even death. For the congregant, unless they are trying to oust the pastor, these changes do not come at times of our planning! We often experience grief at these changes just like we do at the loss of a loved one.
While there are now different stages of grief postulated, the classic five are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is quite natural to experience one or more of these emotions during change in our lives and we've experienced a lot of change in the last couple of years!
So how does our faith allow us to be victors during a time when we are experiencing change?
One of the main things is to realize that God is not going anywhere. It sounds kind of simplistic to remind us that God remains with us through our changes but we might actually forget this important fact sometimes!
Another thing that is kind of exciting is getting to know a new pastor. It is not cheating on me to like the new pastor! I have every confidence in Scott Keneda and my hope is that he'll continue to nurture you in the faith, picking up right where I leave off.
Our conquering in the faith is different than conquering in a military skirmish or in the business world or even in a pickup game of basketball. In faith, we recognize that change happens all the time and while we may grieve it for a time, we don't fear it. We understand that change promotes growth - in fact, our spiritual growth often comes during times that we never asked for!
We'll continue to explore this idea of being victorious in the faith on Sunday. Catch us in the sanctuary at 8:30 and 11 am or outdoors at 9:45 am with our Worship on Hurd band. We'll also be live streaming on YouTube at 8:30 and Facebook at 11. I hope you'll be able to join us. Worshipping with your church family in some form or fashion will be a wonderful way to celebrate Mother's Day together!
Photo by The Joneses via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.