June 12, 2020
See Jesus. Show Jesus. Share Jesus.
I'm not sure if Pastor Nick is going to want to continue sending you something called "Friday from First" every week - he might, but he might have an even better idea for keeping you informed and connected to First United Methodist Church.
Either way, this is my final message to you before I leave for Willmar United Methodist Church. I've seen a lot of finality in the past few days. The final box of files and books has been packed and hauled out of the pastor's study, waiting with all the others for the Mayflower truck to pick them up next Thursday. The final songs have been recorded, the final message preached. The final worship service is uploading as I type this.
There were things I wanted to include in my last sermon, but they just didn't quite fit. So I will share a couple of those things here. One is from Bob Goff's Live in Grace • Walk in Love. It's part of a devotional called "God Doesn't Give us Maps to Follow.”
“God doesn’t give us detailed maps to follow; He gives us people to go with. It doesn’t matter which direction we go, because He’s more concerned about who we become along the way than where we go with our lives. And the people around us are the ones who will shape us – they’ll remind us who we are and what’s most important when we get off track.” Then Goff asks, “Who are the friends you can call to ride shotgun with you in life?” (p. 286)
This week's gospel reading describes the way Jesus sends out his disciples, turning them into apostles, or 'sent ones'. And I notice that Matthew lists these disciple/apostles in pairs, being sent out two-by-two. God doesn't give us detailed maps to follow; He gives us people to go with. This, I think, might be the essence of discipleship.
J.D. Walt, in his Seedbed.com Daily Text for June 9, 2020, writes:
"True Christian discipleship only happens in the midst of a community of people who prefer one another over themselves and who together learn to love one another with the very essence of the supernatural holy love of God. (see also 1 Corinthians 13)
"Just because we call whatever it is we are doing in the church “discipleship” does not make it discipleship. Discipleship cannot be reduced to a program or a formula or a plan or a curriculum. The mind of Christ, the life of Jesus—which is itself the message of the Cross—is our curriculum. …
"The Holy Spirit is the teacher who makes us disciples together in the community of the humble where the would-be disciple-maker and the disciple cannot be distinguished from one another. Picture Jesus washing his disciples feet and you have it."
You can read the whole essay here.
So there you have it. I have no profound words for you, no meaningful last idea for you to remember me by. I will remember you by the way we walked together in 'the community of people who prefer one another' over ourselves, and who have been learning together how to love one another with the holy love of God.
And now, it is time for you to learn to walk with another pastor, and let him be your friend along the way. Please don't call me or look me up on social media. Please don't put either of us in an awkward position by asking me to do something your new pastor is here to do for you. I will say 'no.' (I'll try to say it gently, but I will say it.)
It has been an honor to walk with you along this road for this season. I thank God for each of you. God may not give us maps to follow, but I'm glad we've had the opportunity to go with each other for this part of the journey. May the peace of Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit go with you, now and forever. Amen.
Pastor Jo Anne