New Springs Community Weekly Newsletter, January 7, 2016
From Pastor Dave
The book of Judges is the story of an in-between time in the life of God's people. Moses and Joshua have died. Samuel, King Saul, and King David have yet to arrive on the scene. As the book opens, we find the Israelites asking God, "Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?" (Judges 1:1) God assigns the task to the tribe of Judah.
Reading between the lines, I think most times of transition and change have similar stories to tell. The CEO has retired. Mom and Dad have died. The heart of the franchise has signed a contract with another team. (Gratefully, that did NOT happen with Alex Gordon this week!) What now? In the midst of our thoughts, a task needs to be handled.
"Who will go up to fight?"
"Who will lead the company?"
"Where will we gather for Thanksgiving?"
Tasks help us to manage the process of change and loss. Sometimes the way through grief and uncertainty is one task, one breath, one moment, one day at a time.
But the assignment of tasks is not the same as the successful navigation of a time of transition. Other qualities and characteristics are required. A new identity is being shaped. New leaders must emerge.
If I'm reading the book of Judges correctly, this was a lesson that the Israelites missed. Chapter 2 makes this rather harsh observation: After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD..." (Judges 2:10-11a)
Thankfully, God provided judges for the people of Israel- leaders during the difficult times and seasons who helped bridge the gap between the age of Moses and the next great age of the nation's history. We are grateful, because the faithful preservation of the people of Israel results in the birth of a savior, Christ the Lord. Now we too have a place in the family of God, and not just because of Jesus. During dry and difficult times, someone stepped up to the task. New identities were formed. Leaders were called and shaped. Remnants persevered. And we are here, recipients of God's grace, because of faithful others.
At the risk of being overly dramatic, let me suggest that our congregation has entered a new "age" with the death of Carolyn Irminger. Even though many of us never met her, or had very little contact with her, God used her in remarkable ways to shape the life and character of our congregation. She was committed to biblical preaching, to joyful worship, to personal discipleship, and to intentional community. Sound familiar? Even more importantly, she was deeply committed to the ministry of prayer.
As we celebrate her life, miss her, and trust in God's promise of life everlasting, there are some tasks to be done.
Who will pray for us? Who will challenge us to lead lives of prayer? Who will respond to the challenge?
Over the years, my experience has been that God does indeed provide. In every season of the life of our congregation, in good times and bad, the Lord has provided leadership, wisdom, insight, spiritual depth, and just the right resources. Over the past few years we've seen this again and again. Some of you have even told me of the personal moment of being called, when you realized that pillars of the church were no longer present, and also realized that it was your turn to be a pillar.
Even as we give thanks for the provision of the Lord, and the ways in which we have experienced that provision through many different people, the challenge still remains. We are, I suppose, just one generation away from forgetting. God's purpose and mission will not fail, but they will only involve us as we commit ourselves to join in.
I hope that 2016 is a year of dedicated soul work among the people of New Springs Community. I hope this is a year of steps in the direction of vibrant discipleship, loving community, passionate worship, and humble service. To borrow from another period in the life of God's people, I hope this is a year when, in reflection of all that we have been given, and in discernment that the moment has come for each of us personally, we all, in different ways, answer the call of God by saying, "Here I am. Send me."