I crunched out through the dry grass of our backyard and opened the rusty hook. The house came with a shed out back. Within the shed spider webs drape what might someday help me start a garden. Rolls of fencing and stakes twist with green hose. I rip a shovel from the dusty webbing. I drag it out to the bushes. Dead leaves of last year’s flowers lie motionless. Sticks of leafless seedlings protrude from the tan brush. A curious urge to clear out the deadness overtakes me. I lift the shovel and bring it down in a fast hack near the base of the tiny trees. I expected to only see dirt. I didn’t expect a surprise. Pinkish purple catches my eye. I lean down and see healthy bulbs growing through the piles of death. I hack and hack. I uncover more and more.
Death. Life. Growth. Cycles.
Things look bleak. The landscape of grays and browns possess a chilling beauty. Yet they do invoke a sense of gloom. I am suddenly struck with the correlation with my own life. Old dried up patterns, now challenged, and being hacked at. Hope for new things poke out under all the death.
Two months have passed. In this land where the seasons change we watch the plants respond. I watch my heart, too, respond to the changing seasons of my life. I mourn the death of the passing. I scrape away the dried up cover. I let the tiny little evidence of growth I see poking through my character give me hope for the new yet to come.
How do you know a season has ended? Speaking of nature we know one season ends when the surroundings change. Sure, the experts gave us specific dates that are supposed to mark the end of one season and the beginning of another. We all know, though, the gradual effects caused by the year-long orbit of the earth around the sun pay little mind to the numbers on our calendars.
June first was our last Sunday as head pastors of Iglesia Cristo Nación. This important mark on the calendar serves its purpose, yet the change of our service to the congregation continues to follow nature’s gradual pattern. The shift began some months ago. We alerted the leaders of the need to move from a personality based operation to an organism pulsating with the power of relationship. We needed to move out of the spot light. Heck, the spotlight needed to be turned off. We told them at the end of last year that we would no longer be the pastors of the church and we would help them with the transition.
Much prayer and many meetings later five faithful congregants were identified as the ones to carry the congregation through this new phase of transition heading towards the installation of a new pastor. Two weeks before our last Sunday as head pastors we presented this group to the congregation. The spirit was sweet and amicable. There was an embrace of acceptance felt in the church that day.
These five will preach, teach, lead, care for, and guide the congregation together. Each one has been a member of the church for over three years. Each one has served faithfully in some capacity for quite some time. Above all, each one has demonstrated through word and action a deep love for God and for His bride, the church. We are at peace with the group consisting of: an older man who used to be a pastor, an elderly woman who also used to be a pastor and is helping with a church plant, a young woman called to missionary work, a young man who sings with the worship leaders, and the man who leads the youth. I like that the group has men and women, single and married, young and old. Such diversity represents the heart of an inclusive God. The hand of God, and call to service, is evident in each of their lives. I am happy, grateful, and deeply touched by their willingness to step up and care for the body of Christ Nation Church.
DaRonn shared in his final message to the church an analogy to help people see what was happening. He told them he would no longer be a player on the team, but that he would now be a coach to the leaders, specifically these five. One of the first decisions this group made was to invite him to share at the church’s 8th Anniversary service this coming week. He accepted the invitation to share this coming Sunday. At first I wanted him to turn down the invitation. I see now this is a part of the gradual process of change and I am at peace with him sharing for the anniversary.
We sat in a different place this past Sunday. The front row was our place for these many years. Now that we are stepping out of the focal point I wanted the people to see a physical manifestation of our hearts. We remain part of the congregation. A few people shared with me their sadness at not seeing me in that front row. I told them I am still here, I still love them, and that they need to look to Jesus as their focal point. We will likely try out a number of different places in the seats in these coming weeks. It surprises me how even where we sit holds such weight.
I feel really good about this change of seasons. The sweet spirit at the church so far confirms the goodness in this transition. Please pray for this group of people. Please pray for the Washington family. Change always comes with its own discomforts, lament for what was, and uncertainty about what will be.
The change at church is not the only transition taking place. I feel as though we have been a constant state of major transition for years now. There are times I feel weary from the process. At other times I am energized by the hope of the new things to come. Through it all I am so very grateful for those people around us who extend their unconditional love in tangible and sincere ways. I am glad to be allowed to be imperfect yet accepted. This helps me to see the love of our Heavenly Father poured out in our lives. I hope that each one of us knows the incomprehensible grace and mercy of God. Peace to you.