Out of control
I hope you’ve all stayed safe and warm through the storm. After “the blizzard of the ages,” we’ve all been thoroughly reminded that life is out of our control, no matter how much we love to plan and program and prepare. Maybe this is a good lesson for us to relearn periodically…so that we stay nimble and flexible in this life…able to regroup, retool, and re-invent ourselves.
After Jesus announced his mission statement (quoting from the prophet Isaiah):
Jesus’ hometown crowd in Nazareth responded predictably: “Wow – amazing – but this is Joseph’s son, a local boy!” I’m sure they thought they could make good use of this neighborhood guy as a wonderworker around town.
But Jesus responds very clearly, I have come on God’s mission, not yours. I will not fix all your problems for you. I will not be your tool.
Jesus would not be controlled by his Nazarene neighbors, or by anybody, for that matter. And the people responded with rage. They tried to throw Jesus over a cliff!
So, Jesus does not conform himself to our wishes or our convenience. In fact, Jesus’ actions in the world may make us very uncomfortable. Jesus can require changes that we really don’t want to make. (That’s what the word repent means.)
I believe this is happening in the church today. The ways of doing church that we (of a certain age) grew up with don’t work very well anymore. That doesn’t mean God has abandoned us – far from it! It does mean that God is doing new things, and we must change, adjust, even re-invent ourselves to align with God’s mission for us. It’s not ours to control. (Actually, it’s never been ours to control, but we – I – have often forgotten that.)
So let the blizzard be a lesson to us: God is doing new things in the world, and in the church. These are demanding times. As we did in our snow shoveling these last few days, we need to use muscles we haven’t used in a while to grow our congregation around God’s mission of compassion and justice and freedom. Parish leaders will be asking your help. I hope you will say yes. JBM