As I write this note the calendar says spring but everything around me looks like winter. On my back patio there is freezing snow and ice. This was a very harsh winter. It seemed to snow every day. It’s hard to imagine that anybody or any living thing survived it. What kept me from despairing was my faith that spring would finally come. It reminds me of the Christian faith. The same is true of Christians when encountering the Easter mystery. Christ’s death by crucifixion and three days in the tomb – it seems like all is lost. But it’s only a death that leads to new life and an ending, which leads to a new beginning in Christ, if we have the faith to see it and believe it!
Lent is good time for reflection and to get your yearly spiritual eye exam so that we can see clearer through the eyes of faith. It is also a time to do a bit of spring-cleaning for the soul. When we spring clean our earthly homes we sometimes find that we have more junk than we expected. We find ourselves having to make stops to the Goodwill Store or the Salvation Army to drop off unwanted and unnecessary items. The same thing happens with spiritual spring-cleaning. When we spend time in spiritual reflection we often discover that we have a room full of old hurts, wrong beliefs and regrets that we need to drop off at the altar of salvation.
The Christian community worldwide is journeying together toward the mystery of the resurrection on Easter Sunday. As I review the Christian liturgical year, I can say that our local church is recovering from a winter of the soul. We have experienced varying vicissitudes that have caused a great deal of tension. But in general, God has been gracious to us by helping us to experience new ways of worship that has captivated our need for the Holy Spirit. God’s amazing grace has brought us through our brokenness to endure difficult moments in our life together.
As the Interim Pastor, I have observed our church begin a gradual a healing as we come to terms with our history. We are now searching for our new identity as a community of faith. In order to achieve this objective together and as we anticipate a new future for our congregation it is important to keep our discomforts and struggles in perspective.
I believe that we, as one body of Christ, must see (envision) and speak of the good things we want to see in our future. We must pray for the pastor, elders, deacons and our entire congregation. We must live together as the family of Christ.
Anyone can speak what he or she sees, but it takes faith to speak what we want to see. Anyone can state the obvious, but it takes faith to see the invisible and call it forth! It takes faith to prepare for spring when it is snowing in March! Our Lord Jesus always spoke the good that He wanted to see happen. He said, our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Everyone else thought that Lazarus was dead because he was already wrapped in grave clothes and in a tomb. But Jesus spoke of Lazarus as being alive. Jesus called forth what He wanted to see. He said, “Lazarus, come forth! And he who had been dead for four days arose and came out of the tomb (John 11: 43-44).
Our past has robbed us of the trust and confidence we had in our leaders. We are also taunted by mistrust, skepticism and contentions that inhibit our life together and outreach in the community. We can have a compelling vision, a solid stewardship strategy, excellent communication skills, innovative insight, and a skilled leadership team, but if we don’t trust each other, or our leaders we will never get the results we are anticipating and hoping for our future. It is my prayer that our newly elected elders and members of committees will inspire trust and garner better output, boost morale and membership.
If we come together as a community to support our leaders, to volunteer, remain faithful in our giving, maintain commitments through adversity, be compassionate to our neighbors and friends, and insist on being a person of good character and goodwill we will foster trusting relationships that will bear much fruit. We are encouraged in scripture to bear fruit that remains through faith. If we can endurance the dormancy of winter we will enjoy a fruitful spring.
Yours in Christ,
Reverend Terri Cissé