A Week In Transition

This week I am in between pastoral appointments having concluded my time of service at Reeves UMC and preparing to begin serving at Tuskawilla UMC.  My emotions are all over the place…and I am tired.  So tired.

The lyrics of Ten Avenue North’s “Worn” speak directly to me as I lean into this tiredness and prepare for newness.  Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heaven burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28-30).

If you are feeling tired and worn this week, lean into it and prepare for newness.  Our God promises that redemption wins – and redemption is coming.

Blessings my friends.

“Worn”

(enjoy the link to the video)

I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn

The Gospel According to Showtunes: Climb Every Mountain

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Ephesians 3:14-21

This Sunday is my last Sunday with my Reeves UMC family.  On July 1st I begin serving as the senior pastor at Tuskawilla UMC and my first Sunday will be July 6th.  Below is my farewell letter to Reeves.  I invite you to be in prayer for both of these congregations and for me as I prepare to say “see you later” and “nice to meet you” in the next couple of weeks.

Dear Reeves UMC Family,
It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as your pastor for the past two years.  You have taught me so much about life, about being a pastor, about yourselves, about myself, and about the very real presence of God in our midst.
Thank you for putting up with my shenanigans, loving me despite my shortcomings, and embracing my “high taste” for shoes.  Thank you for opening your arms to Andrew and our four-legged children.  Thank you for allowing me to affirm and challenge you in my sermons and small group studies.  Thank you for your prayerful support of the mission and outreach of the church.  Thank you for your trust in my leadership and stewardship of your congregation.  Thank you for the hugs, handshakes, constructive criticism, affirmation, laughter and tears.
I felt called to come to Reeves and serve alongside you.  I am now called to continue in service in another local church.  My love and care for you will continue.  I will continue to hold you in prayer as you come under Rev. Tracy’s pastoral leadership and grow as disciples so you can transform your church and community.  As I leave you to begin serving as the pastor at Tuskawilla United Methodist Church I will remember you fondly and know that we will meet again someday.  So this is not good-bye; it is see you down the road.  It is because of God’s grace that we travel this road together and this road is leading us to glory.
Love,
Sarah
Philippians 1:3-6
Prayer: “Lord, whose love through humble service bore the weight of human need, who upon the cross, forsaken, offered mercy’s perfect deed: we, your servants, bring the worship not of voice alone, but heart, consecrating to your purpose every gift that you impart.  Called by worship to your service, forth in your dear name we go to the child, the youth, the aged, love in living deeds to show; hope and health, good will and comfort, counsel, aid, and peace we give, that your servants, Lord, in freedom may your mercy know and live.”* Amen.
*”Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 581.

The Gospel According to Showtunes: Seasons of Love

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Psalm 39:1-7

This week pastors and lay people from all over the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church will gather in Lakeland for our Annual Conference event.  It is a time to celebrate the ministry that God has led the Florida Annual Conference (comprised of over 700 churches) to and through this past year.  It is also a time to look ahead to where God is leading us in the future.

I most look forward to Annual Conference because of the friends in ministry that I am able to reconnect with during the event.  We worship together.  We grow together.  We eat together – and eating together is a priority – we are United Methodist, after all.

This Annual Conference will also be very special because I will be ordained and brought into full connection membership to the Annual Conference.  On June 13th, 2014 – a Friday and a full moon! – I will close my six year candidacy journey.  Over the past six years I have moved from inquiring candidate to certified candidate; from certified candidate to commissioned provisional elder; and now from commissioned provisional elder to ordained elder in full connection.  During these six years I have laughed and cried; I have doubted and felt affirmed; I have watched God transform relationships – bringing some to a close and rooting others all the more deeper.  I am so blessed to have had Andrew by my side throughout this journey.  I was called to this life and I chose this life – a life of ordained service in the church, a life of itinerating when the appointive authorities say it is time to move, a life of middle of the night phone calls for pastoral emergencies and meetings after meetings after meetings.  Sometimes I apologize to Andrew for this life that I have brought him into because he did not choose it…but then he looks at me and says, “But I did choose it…I chose it when I chose you.”

I know what you are thinking…he’s a keeper.  And I intend to do just that.

My Annual Conference experience will be a full one.  I am

  • Hosting a lunch
  • Assisting with the coordination of all seven worship services
  • Participating in two worship services
  • Co-hosting the inaugural Annual Conference 5K
  • Singing in a memorial choir
  • Being ordained
  • And hugging a whole host of people that I love very very much.

I am thankful for the season in my life.  It’s a crazy one, but it is so full of God’s abundance and love.

And next week…I will sleep.  Very very well.

Prayer: “Be still, my soul: your God will undertake to guide the future, as in ages past.  Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be bright at last.  Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know the Christ who ruled them while he dwelt below.”*  Amen.

*”Be Still, My Soul,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 534.

The Gospel According to Showtunes: Raise You Up

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Acts 1:1-11

The Ascension of Jesus assures that those who come from God, return to God.  Jesus – God’s only begotten Son – came from God as an infant – holy and lowly – and now as resurrected Christ ascends into heaven.  Those who believe in the resurrected and ascended Lord are also on this path.  We, who claim faith in Christ, are new creations; our birth is no longer natural or earthly but from on high with God.  Our faith in Christ has grafts us into the Kingdom.

The Apostle Paul writes, “You will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity towards those who have fallen, but God’s kindness towards you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again” (Romans 11:19-23).  The “broken branches” refer to the people of Israel that did not receive the good news of Jesus Christ and the “grafted branches” refer to the Gentiles that did receive the good news.  Paul guards his listeners (and readers) against pride.  It is because of Christ that we are on the path we are on; therefore, do not be boastful.  We have been set on a particular way – from God to return to God – and how we live and serve in the in-between-time becomes our focus.  We are challenged to keep God at our center so that in God we will “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Jesus sends the disciples to Jerusalem; there they are to await the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This is another step in their in-between time from God to God, but the disciples get ahead of themselves.  They don’t want to take a step; they want to take a flying leap forward!  They ask, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6)?  I can imagine Jesus dropping his chin to his chest and chuckling after hearing this question.  Acts records Jesus response as, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8).  My paraphrase of Jesus’ response would go something like this…”Oh you disciples, you still don’t get it.  You are looking for things way in the future when I have asked you to be present in this moment.  We are here for you to receive the Spirit and then you will join me in restoring the Kingdom to the ends of the earth.  Keep focused.  One step at a time.”  Before the disciples can ask any follow-up questions, Jesus ascends.  They stand in awe with their gaze toward heaven.

And eventually…their gaze shifts from the heavens back to earth, back to the mission field, back to the Kingdom that is reigning in some areas and still needing to in-break into others.  God equips the disciples with the Holy Spirit so they are prepared to attend to the work before them.  The disciples are now responsible to carry on Jesus’ revolutionary work and they will do so with the Holy Spirit as their companion.

We, as modern day disciples, also find ourselves on the path “from God to return to God.”  Sure, we can take time to marvel at the heavens and be thankful for the final destination of our path, but we have work to do in the in-between time.  We, like Jesus’ disciples, have to uncrane our necks from the heavens and get dirt back under our fingernails.  Jesus is not going to do the work for us and we cannot stand idle until he returns in glory.  There is work to be done.  We are equipped by God’s Spirit to do it.  And we will do it – one step at a time.

Prayer: “I can hear my Savior calling, I can hear my Savior calling, I can hear my Savior calling, ‘Take thy cross and follow, follow me.’  He will give me grace and glory, he will give me grace and glory, he will give me grace and glory, and go with me, with me, all the way.  Where he leads me I will follow, where he leads me I will follow, where he leads me I will follow; I’ll go with him, with him, all the way.”* Amen.

*”Where He Leads Me,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 338.