A Pastoral Word
For the last few months, the journey that Moses took as a leader has been laying heavy on my heart and has given me strength for the upcoming journey of transformation that awaits our church family. The part of his story that has become part of my prayer life is that moment right after they crossed the Red Sea. Before that moment, all the people of Israel could think of was death and destruction. They just knew that the Pharaoh’s army would capture them and send them back to slavery or worse, kill them. In that moment, death seemed to loom large for the Israelite people. And then a miracle happened. Moses parted the Red Sea under the guiding arm of God. The people made it safely across and there was celebration. No more Pharaoh’s army. No more worry about dying. No more worries about what would prevent them from crossing into the Promised Land, at least at that moment.
There was joy and happiness after crossing the Red Sea for the Israelite people but there were also questions. Where was Moses leading them? Where would their next meal come from? Who was in charge? Did anyone know what was going on? Everything was new and everything was in limbo.
For the next forty years, Moses, along with other leaders, figured out how to be the Israelite people. They came up with structures for worship. They developed laws that would guide their lives. They came up with structures that would eventually define who they were as a nation.
It took them forty years but they figured it out!
It is this moment that resonates with me at this point in our faith journey together. I think this is where we are right now as a church. We have crossed the Red Sea and now we have to go about the business of figuring out how to be the Church in today’s society. We as a church have been given and have embraced a vision and mission that was laid upon our hearts by God. And now we have to figure out how we are going to live out that vision and mission: how are we going to incorporate WELCOME into everything that we do as a church.
We are going to have to come up with policies that protect us, that lead us, that guide us as we live out this mission. We are going to have to come up with structures that will help define who we are as MIDWAY CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
I told the elders a few weeks ago that when I first heard the financial numbers of our first few months of our yearly budget, I was a little freaked out. But then I realized that my prayer each and every night for the last year has been, “God, help me guide your church. God, show me how to lead your church.” And God answered.
If we are going to be a transforming and transformed church, we must do a little housecleaning first. We must reinforce our foundation, financially and spiritually. If we had surged ahead in the process of transformation without making sure our “t’s” were crossed and our “I’s” dotted, then we would have been building our house upon the sand and in a few years in the future, we would have watch all of our hard work washed away by the sea.
We must remember that Israel didn’t reach the Promise Land quickly. It took them forty years of wondering before they made it. And I am sure that on their journey, they did a lot of self-reflection, a lot of learning about who they were, and who they wanted to be as God’s people. We also must remember that they had some rocky points along the journey. (Did someone say Golden Calf?!)
We must also remember that God was there to guide them as a cloud by day and as a pillar of fire by night. God provided food for them along their journey. God send manna from heaven each morning and meat each night. God watched over them on their journey. God provided for them on their journey. And God lead them to the Promise Land.
And that is what we hold to as we begin our journey of transformation. We may wander a bit, hopefully not for forty years. And we may hit some rocky points along the way. But we must always remember that God is providing for us and guiding us along our journey as people of God.
So I leave you with the final words of Moses to the Israelite people:
“Then you shall again obey the Lord, observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, and the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, ...Surely this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, ...Choose life so that you and your descendants my live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days…”