Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2
The summer months move by so quickly. We hardly have a chance to slow down, catch our breath and signs of another school year start popping up. In some ways that planning and looking forward is always taking place. Sunday school plans are being made, confirmation plans are being made. Those who will be affirming their faith this fall are completing their work. Harvest of Hands folks are busy with their projects. Maybe we need to rethink our approach to summer as a chance to catch our breath, drink some water but continue to run the race set before us.
This is on my mind because keeping my eyes on Jesus keeps me focused on my journey of life and faith. Eugene Peterson paraphrases this Hebrews passage in The Message this way: “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way.” It’s very, very easy to get distracted along the way. But if you’re actually running and looking off to the side or behind you or focusing on your feet, you’re going to fall and that can be painful.
The phrase ‘we’re in a time of transition’ feels like it’s getting old. Change is a part of life in our homes but also in church. Zion is experiencing those changes more closely these past few years. Many are anxious to get a new senior pastor and see what Zion will look like in the future. You probably need to think about what’s distracting you these days.
We’ve had a few interesting conversations at our supper table as my girls and I talk about the rumors they have heard. One of the rumors they both have dealt with was that Pastor Steve was leaving because we can’t work together. Well, the girls know that’s not true and that Steve and I are friends. Friends don’t have to do things the same way or be good at the same things and we don’t always have to agree, but we support and care for each other as colleagues and friends. We’ve heard other rumors, some that are kind and others that are hurtful.
So, the girls and I go back to what we know is the truth and remember that people do stretch the truth and add to stories and sometimes actually lie even at church. I know that’s a hard one to swallow but it’s a distraction from the many wonderful things that are happening here at church. When we let the rumors run rampant we are not only a distraction but a roadblock to trip up and confuse our journey together.
Zion is on course with speaking the gospel. We are actively seeking to share Christ’s word, strengthen faith and serve those in need. God has not retired or taken a new call but is at work in and through this community of faith. We have an excellent staff who will continue to focus on their areas of ministry. The Transition committee has worked hard to pull together our congregational profile listening to your comments as well as documenting where Zion has been and our vision for the future.
The next few weeks will offer many opportunities for you to grow in faith and be an active part of doing God’s work. It’s not a good time to sit back to wait and see. No, come and join the journey. Keep your eye on Jesus – I do.
I consider it a privilege to serve as a pastor of Zion. I appreciate the diversity of gifts and talents that the staff and congregational members bring to our journey of faith together. I look forward to being a part of how the pastoral ministry will continue to unfold in these next months and years. God has blest our journey together and will continue to lead us each step of the way.