Thursday, August 21, 2008

More steps on the journey . . .

A while back at Carol asked folks about blogging. Although a novice to blogging I have been reading blogs for about two years. I began following those who were being critical of the denomination to which I belong . . . and I realize it was almost a sickness. Now, I find myself drawn to those blogs that challenge me on what it means to be a follower of Christ and pastor of a smaller membership church rediscovering what it means to be church.What does this reveal about me . . . could it somehow be a part of this journey of intentional transformational ministry that we began about a year ago? In moments when I take time to do a self assessment I find that there have been many positive changes in me, especially in my letting go of my control issues and taking time to listen . . . trying to hear what is really being said behind the words that are being said then trying to address the underlying message. This is not easy in this congregation as we don't really engage in healthy communication . . . but I don't think that this is unusual for churches . . . after all churches are imperfect because they are filled with fallible human beings.

One of the cool things happening at the church is that even in the midst of conflict over the Narthex -- Sunday one of our lay leaders addressed the congregation head on with a confession that we the governing board didn't handle things well and "were licking our wounds" but weren't giving up on making the church more hospitable. What honesty . . . but also how refreshing that he was willing to talk honestly. He didn't say it in a judgemental or condemning fashion . . . just honestly that it isn't about us it is about the "other" . . . the stranger at our door.

GET OFF THE RABBIT TRAIL . . . back to the cool thing . . . we've been working on focusing on small groups . . . one of the women in the church came Sunday to ask could she start a small group that meets to discuss the sermon . . . TO DISCUSS THE SERMON . . . "of course" . . . now although this isn't exactly a small group that will be an avenue for welcoming the "other" it does say something about people wanting to go further and deeper . . . and the great thing, "Lydia, we'd love for you to be able to come, but don't feel you have to!" . . . how great.In recent weeks I have been preaching the Kingdom parables of Matthew 13 . . . I am preaching through the parable of Matthew so the first meeting will focus on the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant . . . it will be interesting where this leads . . . last year we had a really bad conflict between two key leaders . . . this congregation is notorious for conflicts between members and between the congregation and pastor . . . intervention came too late . . . the family of one of those involved in the conflict ended up leaving . . . this week we got notification that they joined one of our sister congregations . . . the one who remains still hasn't let go of the bitterness although I think she is working on it . . . we have talked about it . . . she says "I need more time" . . . she is one of the people who is committed to attending . . . I pray that the sermon Sunday and the subsequent discussion will help her break through her wall of bitterness . . . and forgive . . . not for the other person as he may never know, but for her . . . for her relationship with Jesus . . . "Then Peter comes to Jesus to ask, 'Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?' Jesus says to him, ' Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times!"


1 comment:

1-4 Grace said...

jsut saw your comment post on St. Cass's blog.
Please know of the extended network of folsk who prayed for you this morning at a clergy gathering in NC.
Prayers for all in Gustav's path.