Where Are We? Where Are We Going?
Pastor's Newsletter article for September, 2013
The Prophet Jeremiah believed God had a purpose for Israel — and that God was calling him (Jeremiah) to lead them into that purpose.
These are words from the letter the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon…
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare…
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. [Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7, 11–14]
For the Israelites who are living in exile, God’s purpose has to do with creating a home (with houses, gardens, spouses, children, descendants…), and being committed to the well-being of the communities in which they live. Three promises are provided with this purpose: that they will experience a future with hope, the reality of God’s presence in their lives, and the restoration of all that they have lost.
God has a purpose for us today, and God is calling those of us who are leaders among God’s people to lead into that purpose. How do we understand this purpose? What current strengths can we build on? What new initiatives could move us in the direction we believe God is calling us to go? What existing (or struggling) ministries need to be set aside to allow us to focus on where we sense God calling us to go?
These are critical days for the church: our society is experiencing dramatic change, and only churches who discover how to adapt will thrive in years to come. The Lutheran Church is well positioned to make a difference, as we live lives that are marked by grace, forgiveness and a desire to serve the people who surround us in this world.
I look forward to working with you as we imagine some faithful answers to these questions. Let me know what you are discovering. Together, we’ll do our very best to remain true to the One who loves us enough to die for us!
God’s peace to you all,