A Pastoral Word
On Sunday, November 5th, Midway Christian Church will celebrate All Saints’ Day and remember those who have gone on before us. As I watch the restoration of the outside of the main building, I am reminded and hold dear all those saints who built Midway Christian Church. I am still inspired by their love of God and their love of community. It is humbling to realize that they set out a vision for the church over a hundred years ago and worked hard and lovingly to achieve that vision. They have left us a great heritage and wonderful memories. Midway Christian Church is steeped in history. L.L. Pinkerton and James Ware Parrish saw a need in the community to establish an organization that would provide a future for homeless or unfortunate girls at that time. What they visioned and later established is now known as Midway College.
Another vision that was set forth by Midway Christian Church and its members included establishing Second Christian Church. L.L. Pinkerton saw an injustice and worked with the congregation to see that their African-American brothers and sisters had a place to worship where their voices would be heard.
These visions were set forth over a hundred years ago by this congregation, not knowing really what the future would hold or even if these visions would come to fruition. But the congregation responded to the needs of the time and now we are left with a distinguished heritage.
And now, we have been given the opportunity to vision and respond to the needs of our community. In just a few days, the Board will gather for a retreat where it will vision and plan the future for Midway Christian Church. I am not sure what shape or form this vision will take but I know that it will be grounded in God.
As I have prayed for guidance from God to help lead this congregation into the future, I always seem to get the same message. “Be still and know that I am God. I am working through Midway Christian Church. I am stirring their souls and refreshing their spirits. This congregation is headed for great things. Be patient and listen to my voice.”
I know that Midway Christian Church is on the cusp of something exciting. I know that Midway Christian Church’s future is bright. I know that Midway Christian Church will continue the traditions of visioning and responding to the needs of the community. I know that this Board Retreat will be an amazing, energizing experience for this congregation. And I know that we will go forward with the grace and guidance of God.
One of the traditions of the Yakama Indian elders is to vision for the future of the tribe. But when they vision, they don’t vision for 5 years or even 10 years. When they vision for the tribe, they vision for 50 years.
Imagine what that would mean for Midway Christian Church if we were to vision for 50 years. Most of us may not be around to see this vision come to fruition but what a heritage and what a gift we will have left for our children and our children’s children.
As I sit and remember all the saints that have visioned for us and are now gone, I am reminded of another saint whose words speak to me heart and I gladly share them with you now:
“It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No Statement says all that should be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
That is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own."