Almighty God, your servant Joseph faithfully followed your command to take Mary as his wife, in spite of her scandalous pregnancy. Grant us the courage and conviction to follow you in all circumstances and opportunities. Let us not bow to cultural pressures, but seek you above everything else. The gift of your son, Jesus, is sufficient for all our needs and desires. In your holy name we pray. Amen.
Trusting Jesus can seem easy at times. Like on the bright and sunny days, surrounded by friends and family. Or on the mountain peaks when the vistas are magnificent and the air is clear. Yet life is rarely all sunshine and mountain tops.
In my wedding sermons, I remind the bride and groom that not all of life will be like their wedding day, filled with excitement, joy and celebration. The couple will not always be surrounded by the support of family and friends. Like all people, they will need to face life’s storms and life’s valleys. As a married couple, they will have the strength of each other, but they can also learn to trust in Jesus’ power and love to carry them through such challenging days and months.
The fourth chapter of Ecclesiastes describes the benefits of two people working together. It ends the section with this phrase: a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecc. 4:12). The thought shifts from the strength of two to the strength of three. What is the third cord in the rope? That third cord is Jesus Christ, woven into the fabric of life, especially a marriage. But that woven strength is not limited to married couples. Jesus is the strong cord that can carry any individual through challenges that come with the storms and valleys of life.
And a big part of that “challenging” strength grows out of the daily attention given to our trust in Jesus. Trust is something that deepens over time. It rarely appears like magic, on demand. Our trust in Jesus grows through reflection, prayer, study and grace.
More on that in a future post.
The day before my installation, I sent my daughter, Suzanne, a picture of our family stove and a quick note that I was being installed as Lead Pastor at Resurrection, as a gentle form of humor. Her comment was that I should have used an image from a better stove, like a Wolf Convection Oven. It was the one she used when working as a pastry chef at a guest ranch in Colorado last summer. A Wolf stove is first class and will serve the people well for many years.
As I reflect on her comments, I hear wisdom. Resurrection deserves and needs the best from its staff. And I do want to serve the people of Resurrection for many years. I know from my experience at St. Andrew’s that ministry and trust build over time. There are rarely instant solutions or fixes, particularly when one is dealing with the intricate network of relationships within a congregation. Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit that is often ignored in our instant culture.
I also know that the real power of a stove comes from outside, either gas or electricity. I am praying that I will remain steadfast in remembering that all my power and all the power of Resurrection comes from outside of us. As Bishop Rogness read yesterday, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to your through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.” I Timothy 6:14
How do we together keep from neglecting the gift of the Holy Spirit?
Almighty and Gracious God, as I am installed as lead pastor of Resurrection today,
I pray that the power of Christ’s resurrection will be evident among your people.
Together may we learn to trust you above everything else.
Together let us live the call proclaimed in your word.
Together teach us to serve the people in our community and around the world.
Though we cannot see the ending, nor fully comprehend the challenges, we place our hands in yours, trusting you to guide us into your future.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve among such hopeful, caring people. Thank you for being our Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray. Amen