This month, we invited our bloggers to write a “love letter” to the church. Here are their letters.
Remember that is what the apostle Paul called you years ago. Own it. You are beloved. With all your gifts and wounds and disappointments and failures and insecurities and successes and greatest joys, you are beloved. And this is not of your own making. Christ has made you so.
The headlines we read about ourselves appear dire, gloomy and bleak. Seminary attendance appears low. Pews are empty. Pastors are retiring. Budgets are thinning. Leaders are restructuring. I suppose all this means our future will not be paved with stability, security and glamorous success. But are those things what we signed on for?
This is a good time to remember our calling: “Follow me.” A young German pastor said this is an invitation to come and die. I think he was right. But we forget.
Beloved, I grieve with you when bickering and divergent perspectives separate us, when loyalty to ideology over devotion to Christ divide us. And then I also feel deep joy. Immeasurable gratitude and happiness give way to laughter when I see strangers join in a common purpose. I am staking my life on your future. A friend once told me that I have a love affair with you.
How shall we move forward into uncharted and ever-changing waters? Jesus napped in a storm. He didn’t seem too afraid then. But those with him were – like us now – wringing their hands. I think he was right.
Beloved, remember who you are and remember your calling. Throw yourself into your calling completely. Hold nothing back. Leap out of the boat. Lean into the changes; they will be many, some of them painful. Your first love is Christ, not the form and order of worship or polity and not the furniture. Be willing to drop everything to follow. The disciples did. I think that was one thing they did right.
A fellow sojourner,
SAM CODINGTON is pastor of West Haven Presbyterian Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He and his life-partner Esther have a three-year-old son, Ezra, and can often be found running along the Tar River Trail.