Worship Message Texts

I concluded my final interim pastorate in March 2016, so I am no longer preaching on a regular basis. I am available for pulpit supply and these sermon scripts and videos give a picture of my approach. For pulpit supply, I am happy to write new sermons targeted at specific concerns or needs of congregations, otherwise I will rework previous sermons based on the texts of the Revised Common Lectionary for that Sunday.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Toward Exalted Living

Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32
September 28, 2014
© 2014

Woody Allen has observed that 80% of success is showing up. If we don’t show up because we don’t think we have anything of great significance to contribute, the result is nothing.
Roger Lovette, a Baptist pastor in Alabama, wrote that his son went to Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains Georgia to hear Jimmy Carter teach Sunday school, and found this notice in the Sunday bulletin, “Rosalynn Carter will clean the church next Saturday. Jimmy Carter will cut the grass and trim the shrubbery.” The Christian Century, September 20, 2005, p. 20
A story is told of George Washington when he was chatting with the French General Lafayette and a slave walked by and tipped his hat and said, “Good Morning, General Washington.” Washington immediately took off his hat, bowed to the slave and responded, “Good Morning Sir, have a good day.” Lafayette asked, “Why did you bow to a slave?” Washington smiled and said, “I must be as much a gentlemen as he.” (undocumented, drawn from First Christian Church, Duncanville, TX newsletter - http://www.fccduncanville.org/userFiles/3335/9-24-14_news.pdf)
Exalted living is humbly giving ourselves for others in congruence with Jesus.
To fully appreciate the passage we read from Philippians 2:1‑13, we need to know that Philippi was a Roman colony in eastern Macedonia. Its citizens were proud that they were treated as if living in Rome itself, and were highly loyal to the Emperor, who was Nero at the time. They saluted each other in the street with “Caesar is lord,” to which the person greeted responded, “The lord is Caesar.” This was a huge challenge for the Christians whose central affirmation was “Jesus is Lord,” which was considered disloyal if not treasonous.
Verses 5-11 seem to be a hymn that celebrated the faith of the early Church. It may have been written by Paul, but I (and others) think the church in Philippi may have already known it, so Paul could use it for teaching about exalted living. It works as a hymn in Greek but is structured like Hebrew poetry, so may have been translated from Aramaic. It gives us a clearly focused portrait of Jesus.
To encourage us not to look for our own interests but the interests of others, Paul said to have the same mind as Jesus when he humbled himself even to death on a cross for our salvation. This went way beyond encouraging us to follow Jesus’ example the best we can. He was telling us to let the mind of Jesus work in us so we live Jesus from the inside out.
The content of the hymn is also deeply rooted in the Hebrew prophets, such as the Servant Song in Isaiah 53. In God’s divine economy, humiliation is the path to exaltation. Exalted living is humbly giving ourselves for others in congruence with Jesus.
Matthew 21:23-32 gives us Jesus’ own perspective when he was confronted about his authority during Holy Week. On what we call Palm Sunday, he had ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey, symbolic of the humble king in Zechariah 9:9. The people proclaimed him “son of David,” implying royal authority and the prophet from Galilee, implying divine authority. With these shouts of acclamation echoing in the Temple, he drove out the merchants. Blind and lame folk came to him, and he cured them. With children running and shouting in the Temple, Jesus taught those who gathered. The next day the Temple leaders were ready and waiting for him.
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things.25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
Jesus was not evading the challenge of the Temple leaders. His response with a question and a parable were typical rabbinical. Jesus pointedly aligned and identified himself with John the Baptist. He was completing the mission John had started and handed over to Jesus. So Jesus claimed for himself the same authority as John. If the Temple leaders said John’s authority came from God or heaven, they’d be acknowledging Jesus was making the same claim. If they said John’s authority was human self-appointment, they’d have to call John and Jesus false prophets, which not only would land them in trouble with the people but expose their own hypocrisy.
Jesus’ parable of the two sons is just complex enough to prevent a simplistic equation of the Temple leaders with the second son and the tax collectors and prostitutes with the first. By affirming John as coming in the way of righteousness, Jesus not only claiming to do that too, he overtly told the temple leaders that when they saw the tax collectors and prostitutes repenting and being baptized by John, they should have recognized God was redeeming the least likely and changed their minds and repented too.
With this mission, Jesus overtly claimed authority from God in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
On April 30, 1944, a year before he was executed, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who poured out his life at the hands of the Nazis because he refused to allow the church to be the tool of oppression, wrote to his friend Eberhard Bethge: “The church is the church only when it exists for others. … The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving. … It must not underestimate the importance of human example which has its origin in the humanity of Jesus.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, 2nd ed., ed. Eberhard Bethge (New York: Macmillan, 1971), 203-4.
Sometimes we exempt ourselves from the challenges of past heroes because we do not feel we are in such cataclysmic circumstances. To paraphrase Woody Allan, in ordinary circumstances, 80% of faithfulness is showing up. No opportunity is too humble to be given for others.
An effective interim journey between pastors depends of not looking to your own interests but to the interest of others. Your Search and Call Committee will not be looking for a new pastor who will suit your personal preferences but one who can lead you in the way of righteousness so those who may seem unlikely to you can be transformed by Jesus.
From exuberant celebration to unquenchable grief, empathetic presence is what people value most, not profound principles, not heroic deeds, not sensible advice. As Henri Nouwen used to say, “The way to show someone how valuable they are is to waste time with them.”  Exalted living is humbly giving ourselves for others in congruence with Jesus.

Friday, September 19, 2014

To Live Is … ?

Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16
September 21, 2014
© 2014
The Red Vineyard
Vincent Van Gogh
Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21 “For to me, living is Christ.” If you were asked to fill in the blank “To Live Is …” what would you answer?
You’ve probably heard the quote that is often attributed to Malcom Forbes, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” Maybe you have seen posters or bumper stickers that evoke a grim smile but announce the truth, “The one who dies with the most toys is dead.”
While most of us would not say life is the pursuit of money, power and prestige, the daily pressures of working to pay the bills often do control life for us. Knowing it is not true, we sometimes say life is an avocation we particularly enjoy: golf, food, travel, sports, music. For centuries, thoughtful people have offered noble answers: To live is love, beauty, truth.
Porter Wagoner’s 1955 song “A Satisfied Mind” gives another answer and has been performed by many artists.
How many times have
You heard someone say
If I had his money
I could do things my way
But little they know
That it's so hard to find
One rich man in ten
With a satisfied mind
Once I was winning
In fortune and fame
Everything that I dreamed for
To get a start in life's game
Then suddenly it happened
I lost every dime
But I'm richer by far
With a satisfied mind
Money can't buy back
Your youth when you're old
Or a friend when you're lonely
Or a love that's grown cold
The wealthiest person
Is a pauper at times
Compared to the man
With a satisfied mind
When my life has ended
And my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones
I'll leave there's no doubt
But one thing's for certain
When it comes my time
I'll leave this old world
With a satisfied mind
How many times have
You heard someone say
If I had his money
I could do things my way
But little they know
That it's so hard to find
One rich man in ten
With a satisfied mind
When we bring Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21-30 alongside Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:1-16, we see that to live is to rejoice with Christ for everyone who receives the same generous grace God has poured out on us.
Rabbis in Jesus’ time told a story, which people may have known. A king had many laborers, but one was an especially good worker, so the King let him work just two hours and day and then set him off but receiving the same pay as those who worked the whole 10-12 hour day. When others objected, the King said, “This man has done more in two hours than you have done in the whole day.”
As he often did, Jesus may have evoked something familiar to people and then given it a surprising twist. Jesus had just told the Rich Young Ruler to give everything he had to the poor and follow him to have treasure in heaven. Peter said to Jesus, “We have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” To which Jesus answered, “Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Then he told this story.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Jesus’ story is not about our rewards but is a window through which we see the God of generous grace. To live is to rejoice with Christ for everyone who receives the same generous grace God has poured out on us.
Rick Morley, an Episcopal priest, and his wife have two daughters, 4 and 7. In his blog, A Garden Path, he tells about their keen, fully developed, uncompromising sense of fairness. They keep internal count of how many play dates they have in comparison with each other. If they perceive the slightest tip of the balance out of their favor, alarm bells go off. “It’s unfair!” The same goes for ice cream treats, new clothes, trinkets and toys. If only they knew that my wife and I would do anything in our power to show both our unconditional love. I imagine God doing the same thing. God lavishly rains down grace on us. Yes, God does have favorites. The trick is we are each God’s very favorite. So when God pours out love and favor on someone else, we need not worry. If we’d just look, we’d see that God is filling our cups to the brim and overflowing. When we see God’s favor extended to someone we disapprove, it’s time to grow up and look at people the way God does. Imagine what it is like for God to look at humanity and see nothing but your children for whom you’ve given everything, even the life of your Son. God must give a wry smile at our jealous envy when others receive generous grace.
For Paul to say, “to live is Christ,” was not a pious abstraction or static state. His desire to depart and be with Christ was balanced by confidence that he would remain to encourage the Philippian church’s progress and joy in faith, and to strengthen them to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
The interim journey between pastors naturally raises uncertainty about the congregation’s future. How will a new pastor change our church? Sometimes this is asked with apprehension and sometime anticipation.
The interim journey between pastors also prompts a renewed desire to reach out to new people and to grow. I assure you that you are not in competition with other churches for new members. Demographic studies show that about 2/3 of the people of Dallas have no church affiliation, despite the plethora of churches in town. If you doubt this, just compare the amount of traffic on Sunday morning with Monday. There are more than enough people for all the churches to reach out to. The greatest joy is introducing them to life in relationship with Jesus.
I know you as a church are excited about bringing in new people and continuing to grow. I know you want to find a new pastor who can lead you in bringing new people to Jesus as well as the church. I also know that new people inevitably change a church. Those who come from other churches inevitably bring history if not baggage. Those who are new to church life haven’t learned how it works and what’s expected. People who are getting to know Jesus for the first time in their lives will bring a whole different set of questions, perspectives, expectations and needs than churches are used to. Watching God pour grace generously on people you’re not sure get it can be unsettling, but watching their progress and joy in faith is the thrill that comes when we know that to live is Christ! To live is to rejoice with Christ for everyone who receives the same generous grace God has poured out on us.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Nobody Deserves That Much Forgiveness!

Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35
September 14, 2014
© 2014

This is one of those weeks when events in the news bang up hard against the Scripture for this Sunday. To ignore it might be more comfortable, but some of you would certainly make the connection and wonder how I missed it or why I avoided it. With all of the attention that has gone to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack 13th anniversary and the national and global struggle to respond to the violence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, even if you are not a football or sports fan, you could not miss the upheaval around Ray Rice’s violence on his now wife Janay. All of this is a jarring challenge to Jesus’ strong mandate for unlimited forgiveness.
I am not going to comment on the response of the NFL – either Roger Goodall or the Ravens – or the news media, or on the relationship between Ray and Janay Rice. But I can’t escape recognizing that Jesus’ telling Peter to forgive 77 (or 70X7) times has been misused by pastors to urge abused women to return to their husbands for more abuse. I would suggest that rather than striking out for real or imagined offenses, forgiveness calls perpetrators of violence to a gateway for repudiating all abuse.
To appreciate what Jesus said in Matthew 18:21-35, we need to start by recognizing that people were listening to what he said, not reading what he wrote. He was purposely catching them off guard with unexpected and even humorous ironies. Like an improve comedian, Jesus depended on interactive responses from his hearers, so I will interpolate some so we can get his message. Last week we heard Jesus explain how to confront each other for our failings. Peter recognized that rather than judgment this was in invitation to forgiveness.
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. Laughter rippled.
23“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. They would have thought of a hated pagan despot such as Herod Antipas or Tiberius Caesar, not God.  24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents (We might say many gazillions of dollars.) was brought to him; 25and, as he could not pay (of course not), his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. Collective Groan! 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ Laughably impossible! 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. Really?!
28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; (We would say ‘a few bucks” and expect him to forgive.) and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. In good melodrama tradition, all boo and hiss.
31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, (of course) they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ Shouts of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. All gasp knowing he will never escape his torture.
35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Jesus caught us in a gotcha moment.
Forgiveness does not excuse or diminish the offense, nor does evade its consequences. Our forgiving someone does not exempt them from needing God’s forgiveness. Only forgiveness accounts for the full seriousness of the offense. As we forgive when we disagree and hurt each other, our character is increasingly infused with God’s forgiving nature.
Joann Lee, associate pastor of House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, MN wrote, “Because we disagree – and because we often hurt one another in our disagreements – we must also learn to forgive.” (Christian Century, September 3, 2014, p. 19) Whether the offense seems huge or slight, none of us deserves forgiveness, but we all need forgiveness.
Forgiveness is about relationships. When we extend forgiveness to someone who has hurt our relationship, we open the door through which they can respond by receiving forgiveness and restoring the relationship.
Here and in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4), Jesus connected our receiving forgiveness from God with us extending forgiveness to those who have hurt us. This is more reciprocal than conditional. Having been forgiven, we can extend forgiveness. Having forgiven others, we are better able to accept that we are forgiven.
A woman who had carried a family wound for decades once told me she thought Jesus was wrong because some people don’t deserve to be forgiven. But by refusing to forgive, she continued to be tortured captive to the one who had hurt her deeply. When we forgive, even someone who refused to acknowledge their offense, we are liberated from the grip in which we are held captive.
As we forgive when we disagree and hurt each other, our character is infused with God’s forgiving nature. Forgiveness in our relationship with God is also reciprocal. Forgiveness is essential to God’s nature, so when we forgive we are acting more and more like God.
By bringing this ironically humorous story around to being forgiven by God, Jesus stung with a supreme gotcha moment.
Psalm 103:3, 10-14 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, …who forgives all your iniquity. … He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.”
 Psalm 130:3-4 “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.”
The interim journey calls for living as people of forgiveness.
Disagreements about where the church should be heading and how to get there are common, as are disagreements about the kind of pastor to call. New pastors often find themselves embroiled in disagreements about what the church expects. But if we take the two passages we have heard today seriously, disagreements need not divide.
Paul urged those who disagreed in Rome to be fully convinced in their own minds. He also told them to respect people who disagreed and assume they were seeking to honor the Lord. On your interim journey, assume that those who disagree with you really want the best for the church and not impugn their motives. This is not easy once you are convinced in your own mind.
Joann Lee also observed that Paul encouraged a centered faith that rallies people around Jesus and is open to learning from each other rather than trying to convince each other, instead of a boundaried faith with detailed definitions of who is included and who is excluded. Thus your interim journey can be an opportunity for forgiving when we disagree and hurt each other, so our character will be infused with God’s forgiving nature.

Friday, September 5, 2014

You Owe Us!

Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20
September 7, 2014
© 2014

In 346 CE the Emperor Constantine made a distorted, diluted version of Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire and made it a tool for his military conquests. Very soon after, the spiritual vigor of the Church declined precipitously. Many who hungered for spiritual renewal withdrew to desert regions from Egypt to Syria and became known as the Desert Fathers (and Mothers). While some of what was written by and about them seems outlandish to us, they kept authentic Christian faith alive. I have found many of their sayings to be of great value today.
One of them struggled with his temper, often having angry outbursts at the brothers in his house. He decided that he would become a hermit and live in a hut by himself so he would have no one to be angry with. The brothers brought him food and water every day but did not speak to him. One day he kicked over his water jug and in a fit of anger smashed it against the wall of his hut. He immediately realized his anger came from within him, and he needed the help of the brothers to overcome it. Repentant, he returned to the community and the brothers welcomed him back to the journey to righteousness.
We just read from Romans 13:8 to owe no one anything except love. With today’s Scriptures, God is telling us that the pursuit of righteousness is not an individual competition sport but a team endeavor which we owe each other as the community of Jesus’ disciples.
Matthew 18:15-20 is such a perplexing passage some have suggested it must have been added later and didn’t come from Jesus. It seems to refer to the church before the church existed, and records Jesus speaking derogatorily about Gentiles and tax collectors – quite out of character for him.
The Greek word translated “church” is ekklesia, which the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures used at Jesus’ time) used for the Hebrew word qahal which means a gathering or an assembly. Jesus did not speak Greek, so he probably used the Aramaic equivalent. Also, in an effort to be gender neutral, the NRSV uses “member of the church” in place of the word for “brother.” I’ve taken the liberty of slightly modifying the English in hopes of better conveying Jesus’ words.
“If a fellow disciple sins (against you), go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the disciple listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the disciple refuses to listen to them, tell it to the gathering of disciples; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the gathering of disciples, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
Often this paragraph is isolated from the rest of the chapter, emphasizing judgment rather than grace. Matthew 18-20 bridges Jesus’ Transfiguration and going to Jerusalem and the cross. He had held up a child to illustrate greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven. He had warned about the danger of causing “little ones” to stumble. He had told the parable of the shepherd with 100 sheep going after the one that was lost. As we will see next Sunday, right after this Peter asked how many times he must forgive. This paragraph encourages us to go to great lengths to help each other pursue righteousness.
Verse 18 repeats 16:19 about binding and loosing and adds agreeing in prayer and Jesus’ presence with even two or three gathered in his name. This is neither harsh judgment nor carte blanche for prayer nor casual affirmation of low attendance. Rather, it teaches that we owe each other all out team pursuit of righteousness.
That is what I hear from God out of the space between Matthew 18:15-20 and Romans 13:8-14. We sometimes hear love proclaimed as a rationalization for disregarding ethical principle, but makes love both the root and expression of righteousness. Romans 13:13 is clear that love precludes reveling, drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarrelling and jealousy. Personal sin and relational sin are equivalent.
Though Paul doesn’t mention it, love that fulfills the law presupposes loving God which Deuteronomy 6:5 puts at the head of the list of God’s commandments. In Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27, Jesus makes loving God the first and greatest commandment.
Then Jesus went on to quote Leviticus 19:18 with the parallel second commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves. So Paul was consistent with both the Hebrew Scripture and Jesus when he wrote that love is the fulfilling of the law. Leviticus 19:34 indicates both how radical this love is and ties it back to God. “You shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
In Galatians 5:14 Paul affirmed again, “The whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” And James, who is often pitted against Paul, wrote “You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (2:8) This is the consistent teaching of the New Testament.
As an incentive for righteous living, Romans 13:11-12 urges paying attention to the time, to wake up and live right. Paul clearly had in mind the time until the appearing of Jesus, but he did not mention that specifically. He did not tell people to shape up because they’d soon have to face Jesus’ judgment. Instead, he encouraged them to begin living now the way they anticipated they would be living when Jesus appeared.
In a society much more friendly to the Church (as least as a social institution), two millennia on from Paul, we have lost some of the edge of anticipating the appearance of Jesus in glory. We’re too content to shift into spiritual neutral and wait. In the space between what we’ve read from Matthew and Romans today, God tells us to wake up and work together as a team to pursue righteousness.
On a much smaller scale, the interim journey is also a living in the space between the times. To shift into neutral and wait is very tempting. I’m here to accompany you on this journey and encourage you to stay awake and make the most of this special time. It is a time for acutely listening for the voice of God together. It is a time to work together like never before. It is a time for a fresh burst of spiritual growth.
We’ll have our stewardship campaign in October, but I want to challenge the way you look at everything (not just money) during our interim journey with the experience of one of the other churches I served as interim pastor. As they caught the vision of what their church could become with a new pastor, giving actually picked up, and by the time the new pastor arrived they had received 10% more than they spent during the interim journey and had a nice fund for starting up new ministries.