Sunday Sermon: Sowing Discipleship

Sunday Sermon: Sowing Discipleship

I was here at the church the day after it was announced I was your new pastor. That was one of the unique aspects of this particular move. Our covenant team meets each week in the parlor, at least we did until the pandemic began, to talk about life and ministry.

On this particular day, however, I walked up the ramp to the sanctuary entrance, to go through the same door I walked into each time we met. I was with a couple of other pastors and we were talking about the uniqueness of walking in knowing I would be coming here to serve in a few months. It was at that moment I noticed something I had never noticed before. I looked down and I saw a row of bricks, each with the names and dates of service for the pastors who have served faithfully here with love. I looked down and couldn’t help but wonder if, one day, I would be placed along that row of bricks.

Lots have changed since that day. I am still walking up that same ramp, but this time to serve as your pastor. I will admit that this particular transition is not what any of us imagined back in March. I didn’t believe for a moment that on our second week together we would be gathered in our cars and online to worship. I never imagined we would be socially distant from one another unable to really meet and get to know one another except for the use of technology, which I am appreciative to have. None of us imagined this would be life, but yet we press forward with the hope of Christ knowing that God is with us, even when it is hard and challenging.

While this transition may not have the normal components to it, we still have the same hopes and desires for God to bring forth a blessing in this new season together. We still have the same questions of where will God lead us and what am I about as a pastor. You’re starting to get a sense of me, in a way, already. I am someone who loves the liturgy of the church. I believe in the connection of the Methodist movement and working together as one body. I believe in having a good laugh, even as we do hard and serious work together. I believe in being a servant leader who shows the way by my example, which I pray is one of humility, grace, and hope in all things.

In all of that though, there is one overarching thing about me that really guides me as a follower of Christ and a pastor. Our passage, this morning, from Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23 gives us an opportunity to reflect upon that and that is discipleship. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Sowing Discipleship”

Confession Needed As We Seek Justice

Confession Needed As We Seek Justice

One of the difficult responsibilities for a pastor is to know when to speak on situations that are affecting our community and nation. It is one I take seriously and prayerfully. The desire is to respond with words of faith and compassion as we wrestle with major issues and crisis points. Throughout my ministry, I have offered pastoral prayerful guidance following school shootings, contentious elections, and denominational struggles. All with the hope and prayer to offer some words from God that can help my congregation and community to process the moment and to enter into a deeper state of prayer.

Lately, I have found myself having to speak more often with words of pastoral hope and guidance in response to difficult moments. Right now, we are dealing with three major boiling points as a nation: the coronavirus pandemic, how 40 million people are currently unemployed, and the increasing racial tensions. Continue reading “Confession Needed As We Seek Justice”

Being a Pastor During a Pandemic: The Relaunch Edition

Being a Pastor During a Pandemic: The Relaunch Edition

A few weeks ago, I offered some reflections on serving as a pastor during a pandemic. I shared about how this season has been odd and difficult. I yearn for the experiences of odd and difficult, now, as we prepare to consider what does it mean to relaunch in-person activities.

I find myself in a place of constant stress, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion as we begin to consider what does it mean to gather back together once more.

Certainly, I never imagined that two months after shutting down in-person activities that we would still be in this place. I never imagined we would go two months without sharing the sacraments together. I never imagined we would go two months without a lot of the essential activities of community. My worst-case scenario began to play out Sunday of being out through Mother’s Day. My ultimate worst-case scenario is becoming a heartbreaking reality of not being together on my last Sunday, which is only a few weeks away. Continue reading “Being a Pastor During a Pandemic: The Relaunch Edition”

Odd Being a Pastor During a Pandemic

Odd Being a Pastor During a Pandemic

That was odd.

A feeling of oddness was about the only one I could muster after watching myself preach and lead our Easter Sunday worship. It was odd being able to worship with my family who, admittedly, were either half awake after being up all night with our newborn or were too interested in the tablet to watch. It was odd seeing myself preach on Facebook. I hate the sound of my own voice, by the way. That was odd being at the cemetery, before the sun came up, to prepare for our sunrise Facebook live feed.

This whole thing has been odd.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is like to lead during a pandemic. Odd is about the only word I can use to describe what it is like, for me, to be a pastor this moment. There is no rule book or guidance on how to do what we are doing. We’re all trying to make the most of it and proclaim God’s name through new and unique means, which I believe is taking place. Continue reading “Odd Being a Pastor During a Pandemic”