As I write this report for the annual meeting, we will be moving into the final phase of my interim ministry at All Saints Lutheran Church. The Call Committee has been formed and the process begun. In the next few months, we will be doing the work that will allow the congregation to seek a good match of a pastor for the ministry needs of this time and place. Though the last two years have been challenging, the time is ripe for all to return to serving the ministry of Jesus Christ. I believe that we stand as the beginning of a faith journey that will faithfully lift up the ministry of our Lord and Savior.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)
This does not mean that it is all downhill from here. It actually means that the journey may become even more demanding as we, together, seek to serve faithfully in Christ’s service. Paul tells us that together, with all believers, we must use our gifts in the service of our Lord. This means that all the members of All Saints are essential for the complete ministry of Jesus to be done. There are not some who are more important than others. There are not some who can just come along for the ride. The challenge of ministry is that all labor together to accomplish the work that the Lord has given us. Where one is weak, it is important that another is strong. It is not the pastor’s job or the council’s job or some committee’s job, but the struggle and work of the entire congregation that will continue the witness of Christ. No one does it alone and it is not fully done without all Christ’s people participating.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:3-8)
How then can we measure the task before us? In the world, we measure ourselves against the strength and weaknesses of others, but in Christ’s service, we are not competing with each other, but we are striving to support and lift up each other. We are not content to reach the goal, if we must leave our sister or brother in Christ behind. Let us chart our path with the guidance of Paul’s words from Romans :
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13)
We have been entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ. Strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit, let us walk this path together.