"Spring is in the air." It is a phrase I keep hearing (I wish someone would tell 'Mother Nature' so she'd know to act accordingly. I want to put my heavy coat up for the season).
While I love spring and all it brings I sense there is more in the air then spring. As a pastor my heart is heavy because there is negativity, hatred, and anger in the air; the air of our United Methodist family.
The talk around the table, the word on the street, the conversations around the water cooler all seemed to be covered in this smell or feel in the air.
There is negativity regarding the future of the Church of Jesus Christ. We talk a great deal about loss of membership, loss of worship attendance, loss of Sunday school attendance and so on. There is finger pointing and sulking. I wish we could look at the positive of the lives changed for Christ through the witness of the Church. I long for us to stop allowing the Enemy of God to bring our spirits down with negativity and allow the Holy Spirit of God to lift us up with eyes to see what God is doing.
There is a great amount of hatred amongst those who do not agree with each. Rather the issue is theology, life styles, worship styles, marketing strategies or rather to wear a robe or not lines are being drawn in the sand and relationships are being cast aside in that "our side" win the argument and the battle. Where is the love that Christ calls for us to have with all His children? Where is the grace to allow one another to share and to listen in love. Yes, I know that scripture shares we are to use the Word of God to test and to reprove as needed but that means in love and not as a weapon to beat the other up with. God have mercy.
Anger is dividing the Church and becoming prevalent all around and I'm not just talking about in the parking lot when people can't find a space. Anger at the situation instead of hope for finding a solution. Anger rises first at meetings and in blogs instead of grace toward others. Anger because we don't get our way or the way we know it should be instead of "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
If there is a downfall of the Church it will be because the Enemy of God has shared just enough negativity, hatred and anger amongst the people of God and we will bring it down on our own.
It is my prayer that this Lent we give up negativity, hatred and anger. It is my prayer that we claim in it's place the power of God to bring a positive, loving, and grace giving spirit to all of us. As we give up the Enemy's way and take on Christ's ways this Lent we might be able to bear the Cross to Easter.
You are loved deeply,
It was a joy to share with the pastors of the Augusta District yesterday our new Pilot Program for Ministry Review. What a blessing to see the great work that Terry Fleming is doing and the positive response from the churches of the Augusta District.