A Pastoral Encouragement
[May 23, 2020]
Beloved Leaders of the Church- We are praying for you this weekend – pastors, ministers, evangelists, prophets, worship leaders, your elders and your church chairs – know that your Ministerium leaders are lifting you in prayer, we are grateful for all that you carry, and we are mindful of you.
Thank you pastors & leaders, for your ongoing obedience to the Good News- for your care for so many in such a heavy and demanding season, for your faith that announces a new way of being right in the midst of a world trying to tell us how to be, for both your humble and unseen acts of bravery and your loud, bold interruptions of smallness and selfishness –you are paving the way for the kingdom of God.
Thank you pastors & leaders, for holding each other up- for sharing resources online, writing your convictions and confessions, posting worship songs and creative choral videos, for praying and covering the most vulnerable, for honoring our chaplains and health care workers, for each of you still prophetically battling racial injustice/lack of health care/generational trauma/additional burden throughout the suffering of COVID across our world –you are building up the Body of Christ.
Thank you pastors & leaders, for holding onto hope– for patience with your leadership teams, for asking your churches and ministries to break through old boundaries and courageously set new limits all at once, for moving your financial giving online, for exploring and innovating, for continuing with your long-term plans to slowly reopen in person only when medical professionals tell us its safe, and for your tenacity to gather and worship and pastor online/on the phone/in new ways–you are witnessing what trust in the abundance of the Holy Spirit looks like.
" ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms… If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Then Thomas said, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are doing, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ ”- John 14
Beloved, in this season of so many shifts, of so much being asked of us all, many temptations and distractions will come. Many will try to tell us how to be the church; how to gather, worship, or embody the Good News; how to lead, obey, or be faithful. Remember - we already know the truth. We already know that Jesus has interrupted death and the ways of this world. We already know that Jesus calls us to another way, the narrow way, the faithful and life-giving way – and this way has always been against empire, against nationalism, against fear and selfishness and smallness, against arrogance and “getting what is mine,” and against the evil that feeds off injustice. The way of Jesus has never centered economic growth, nationalist certainty, or individual rights to comfort– the way of Jesus has always centered loving our neighbors even when it costs us (especially the vulnerable and those battling injustice) and loving our God with all of who we are. That is why we continue to watch out for each other. Why we pause when alternative truth tries to fill the skies. Why we still make space in the midst of it all to name that Black Lives Matter and say the names of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Why we still center the suffering within incarcerated communities, those trapped in failed immigration policies, those overlooked on reservations and indigenous land, and those without access to life-saving health care here and around the globe. Why we call out the anti-image of God evilness of referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.” Why we steward the good gifts of medicine and science as they help us care for the health and safety of our neighbors. We do all this to keep us following the way of Jesus – where we root ourselves deep in Scripture, worship, prayer, confession, and in the celebration of our community who has been called out of this world to imagine a new way to be – a way that smells like the Kingdom of God, that builds up the Body of Christ, that witnesses our embodied trust in the Holy Spirit. We are praying for you, leaders of this part of the body called the Evangelical Covenant, this weekend and throughout the shifts and changes of this season to come. You’ve got this. You already know the truth. Remember. Look up. God is still at work. The church is still the church, gathered by Jesus, connecting however it can online and in prayer, in Spirit, and in Truth. You already have been given all power and authority to lead against the powers of this world, against any lies that try to confuse, distract, or divide. You already know the truth. Keep encouraging on one another toward the Gospel. Know that your obedience and faith matter. And know we are so grateful for each of you. - Your ECC Ministerium Leadership : Liz Mosbo VerHage (and Executive Board Dieula Previlon, Beth Ernest, Eric Hedberg, Mark Tao)