October 27th, 2023 | Rev. Rachel Williams
As I was beginning to write this week’s note, I kept thinking about how appreciated I have felt during this Pastor’s Appreciation Month (thank you, by the way!). That led me to think about the calling I felt to become ordained clergy, and to be an ordained clergyperson in the United Methodist Church at this specific time, no less. I would be lying if I did not admit that there were times in this journey where I wanted to wash my hands of the whole thing. Why would I get into this messiness? With burnout rates high and church attendance low and the schism seeming to grow even wider, I sometimes asked myself, truly, “what is the point of all of this?”.
Well, as always, I come back to Jesus.
Jesus is the point of all of this. When it seems like we get bogged down with the violence of the world, the division of our country, and the state of the United Methodist Church we can hold onto a hope that is much bigger than this moment.
Today, as I was prepping for the next Lunch & Learn class, I read these words by Amanda Held Opelt:
"God, in his mystifying wisdom, did not set the foundation or raise the walls of the Church with the glorious, untouchable alabaster of heaven. Instead, he built the Church with living stones, You and me. We are imperfect so the Church is imperfect…We go to church because we know God is slowly transforming it into a true sanctuary."
-Excerpt from Holy Unhappiness, pg. 160-161
We are an imperfect people, living imperfect lives, being perfected by a perfect God. We are part of a century’s-old story that will not end with us, but there will undoubtedly be a chapter about us. The question we must ask ourselves, as a congregation doing the hard work of sharing Jesus’ love in our community and world, is how do we respond to God to transform church into a “true sanctuary”?
Do you find hope in that question? I certainly do because it allows us to dream. And every time I work alongside one of you, in a mission event or a Bible study, I am reminded of why I became a pastor in the first place. It is because I am called to serve, and I am called to serve alongside you and share in you on this journey as we look with hopefulness toward what the church, imperfections and all, can be when we embrace the promise of resurrection. Let’s dream together.