So I was pleasantly surprised today by some of the congregation congregating (see what I did there?) on Zoom after the service to wish me a happy 12 anniversary of ordination! I can’t believe that it’s been 12 years!
Of course, many of you know that this is my first call (first position as a pastor) and so all these 12 years of ordination has been spent with this congregation. So everything I know first hand about being a pastor, I learned from you. And so I’m so grateful for the past 12 years as you all put up with me and my own growth and development not just as a pastor, but as a relatively new husband and father as well.
And if there is anything that I’ve learned all these years, it is that the life of the church is not one that is full of glamour and ritz, but more about humble service and community care. Maybe that is obvious, but it’s helpful to be reminded of it every now and then. Because it isn’t easy to avoid getting caught up in the rat race, even for churches. But I’ve learned that when we work toward our service and care, we find a kind of joy that we just can’t get from the riches and power of the world (however, I wouldn’t know as I never really had a lot of either).
Still, I know it’s hard to not compare ourselves to others. I know I find myself doing that when I read about what kind of salary some of my American counterparts are bringing in. Sure, it’s a totally different context, but the difference is significant enough to catch my eye. But not that I’m considering leaving or anything, I’m very happy where I am… so here’s to another 12 years (God willing)!
Well, we are nearing the end of Lent, this season of reflection and repentance, and before you know it, it’ll be Easter, the season of resurrection and new life. It’s quite a contrast between the two seasons, as one is somber, and the other is glorious. One is reserved, and the other is lively. One is more about death, the other is more about life. I’ll let you decide which is which.
On the surface, it would seem like we can just do away with Lent and move right into Easter. I mean, the glory is in the resurrection, right? The joy is in that glory, and it’s in that joy that we most clearly see God. Isn’t that how it works?
But then I think about how the people in the gospel lesson say they wish to see Jesus. Because that is what we want too, isn’t it? So Jesus shows himself to them and to us in his humble service to the marginalized and downcast. He shows himself in the community care for the poor and needy. He shows himself in that long walk to the cross, along which he continually points to God.
So we need Lent just as much as we need Easter, because while we see the glory in Easter, we must also see the work in Lent. For there to be forgiveness, there has to be sin. For resurrection, there must be death. To see Jesus most fully, we look at both and understand the dichotomy and see how one lends to the other. Not that one is better than the other, but they are both needed to understand the fuller picture.
So as we continue in ministry together, may we look at the contrast of the church and the world, and see Jesus more clearly in both, leading and guiding us and pointing us to God.