Dear Friends through Christ Jesus:
Have you ever sat in your car at the gate of a railroad crossing with a two-hundred car train whizzing by at sixty miles an hour? Have you ever wondered how much power and time it took to get that heap of metal and cargo moving at that speed? Or how long it would take to stop that beast? Well, the God given gift of physics could actually solve those equations, but let’s just say for argument sake, it takes a whole lot of time and a whole lot of energy.
Now think about this…Almost two years ago, our entire world, as we know it, came to a screeching halt. It doesn’t matter whether one feels Covid is real, fake, overblown or somewhere in-between. The engine that runs the connected economies of this planet was basically forced to shut down and start back up. The gift of physics cannot solve this one, but we do know it will take a lot of power and time to get the world, as we know it, back to whizzing along. Even then, it won’t be the same. We cannot travel back to the land of the way things used to be. We must look forward to the way things can be. And trust me, for the church to get back up to speed is going to be a long, hard road.
During times of crisis throughout history, the church has always been a safe haven from chaos. The church was the constant place of hope and promise that people turned to. Follow WWI and WWII, follow the attack of 9/11 and the economic collapse, the churches were serving its purpose and moving along at a nice speed. Yet this crisis, this virus, this war, took the church as one of its first casualties. Satan knows what he/she is doing. Some of earliest headlines that flooded the networks told stories of large groups becoming infected from church related events; funerals, weddings, choir. So basically, through government intervention, which churches should obey, most places of promise and hope throughout the world closed their doors. The church shut its doors! Word and Sacrament was no long available in person. Folks, this has never happened since the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Not on this scale.
Now what? Like I said, we can’t go back. We must look forward.
Today, I want to give you something to pray about, and then listen. During this pandemic, Peace Lutheran sold a portion of unused property for $300,000. We are blessed to have an abundance of space; room for as large as we desire to grow. Half of those funds were used to pay down our mortgage. The balance of these funds were earmarked for improvements and future ministries. The question becomes, “How do we use this gift to help Christ’s church get up and moving again?” Notice I said, “We all need to pray,” because these are not easy answers.
If we invest to grow God’s kingdom, we run the risk of not having funds to pay our bills in the future, because if attendance and giving do not improve, rather quickly, we will need these funds to keep our doors open. That is really sad.
In the same breath, if we do not invest in our future, then we can only hope that more and more people will walk through our doors on their own and begin to give generously.
Or it could happen, if all of us, and I mean all of us are able and willing to invite the people we know, the people we cross paths with, invite them to “come and see.” Which path do we take? See the challenge? Remember though, Peace Lutheran is not unique, most of Christ’s churches are facing a similar crisis—many much worse.
But can’t you see the opportunity? This has never happened before! There are no blue prints for getting the church back up to speed. We are now forced to rely upon God and actually put our faith in Christ Jesus. As crazy as it might sound, I actually look forward to this challenging journey, because through our struggles we get to see the work of God.
Some of you know how much I love to fish. If you don’t, every week after spending basically all my time dealing with, and reacting to the everyday reality of being a pastor, I pack up a pole, a small tackle box and a bucket. I drive to Playalinda Beach, where I fish and pray, trying to listen for answers to the questions of my mind. Trust me, the topic of what to do at Peace Lutheran is almost always on the top of that dialogue. I sometimes fight those waves and plead for signs and/or knowledge. Sometimes I receive these moments of clarity, sometimes I do not. Sort of like fishing.
During the month of November, find the place that you love. Ask God the questions of your mind and then listen. I have in my mind, what I believe to be a beautiful vision of Peace Lutheran Church. As I recover this month from shoulder surgery, I pray the Lord will give me the words to paint that picture, so I can share with you next month. Until then, we, the church will remain a safe haven where Word and Sacrament are offered freely.
In Christian Love, Pastor David Trexler