Pastor’s ponderings

Over the next several weeks, my brain is liable to turn to mush.  Yes, that’s right, I may not be able to think very clearly in forthcoming days.  This is not because of sermon preparation or seminary coursework, but because of the process I am currently undergoing to apply for Provisional Membership in our Annual Conference (the next step to full ordination as elder).  For the next many weeks, I am compiling a series of papers in regard to my call, personal growth and development, practice of ministry, and theology.  I’ll be honest, it is hard work!  It’s hard work to compile everything that I’ve learned during these past many years of ministry and seminary.  It’s hard work to take all of the years of information and condense it down into a few pages. It makes me have to really think about what is most important, what am I really trying to convey?

            I’m sure we’ve all struggled with that idea, haven’t we?  How do we take the entire message of the Bible and condense it down in a way that it makes sense?  How do we take thousands of years of human interaction with the divine and be able to adequately represent the message that God gave us all to give to others?  Perhaps this is why so many people today are scared of “evangelism.”  You see, evangelism is just a big, fancy church word for spreading the good news, for conveying the message found in Scripture.  But, how do we do that?  How do we explain what seems almost inexplainable?

            During the course of some preliminary interviews that I had to undergo for this process, one of the interviewers looked at me and put it this way – “take all that stuff that you have been learning and practicing these past several years and figure out how to explain it to a six-year-old.”  What?  That sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it?  Yet, not really.  You see, the point is, we have got to be able to put our faith in the simplest language possible so that everyone we encounter has a way to understand what is going on.  After all, churches have a language all their own, don’t they?  (Try to explain UMW, UMM, COSROW, UMCOR, evangelism, diakonia, or the Eucharist to someone who has never been to church!)  So, here is what I want us all to ponder today.  How would you explain your faith to a six-year-old child?  How can you get them to understand who Jesus is and why he is so important to you?  How do you explain why we eat bread and drink out of little cups on certain Sundays?  What does it really mean to be baptized?  Why should we participate in a church congregation and not just worship alone?  Perhaps when we can state these in terms that a six-year-old can understand, we will have begun to grasp them a bit deeper for ourselves.  That is certainly the blessing that I am discovering and pray that you do as well.                                                          Pastor Steve

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