I will not be running the annual Peachtree Road Race on the 4th of July. But I will continue to “run the race that God has set before us”. I look forward to continuing the race that we began together four years ago. It doesn’t seem possible but a new year has begun!
A new year???…well at least a new Annual Conference year has begun. I am delighted to return for a fifth year as your Pastor at Rome First. Denise and I are privileged to be a part of the caring Christian Community of Rome First. What opportunities, possibilities, challenges, celebrations, obstacles and victories will we encounter in this coming new ministry year?
In order to run a race, a “runner” must learn to pace him/herself and know when to speed up and slow down. When to “kick it up” or “kick back” and conserve strength, energy and resources for the “long haul”. Our shared race, the work of ministry by fulfilling our mission, living into our vision and living as instruments of God’s transformative and redeeming Grace is not a “sprint” but rather a “marathon”. I am excited about the possibilities the future holds for transformative, life-changing relationships that are made possible by the ministries and mission of Rome First.
As we consider the “race before us” it is comforting to know the “cloud of witnesses” that ran before us were faithful, faith-filled folks! Folks who sacrificed much to help advance the mission and ministries of Rome First. Folks who like us were ordinary folks who God used in extra ordinary ways to help build the Kingdom. A Kingdom not merely of stones, glass, steel and mortar, but a Kingdom whose foundation is none other than Jesus Christ! On the sure foundation of God’s Love through Christ, we continue to build the Kingdom today by inviting people into a vital, vibrant life-transforming relationship with God through Jesus!
Who knows where the race will take us? Who knows who we will meet along the way? Who knows how we might be used by and for God as we “run the race” that is before us?
As we begin the fifth year together, I reaffirm my commitment to serve as your Pastor. I will pray for you. I will be available to pray with you, listen to you, talk with you and walk with you through the stuff of life. I will never ask you to do anything I am unwilling or unable to do. I will be faithful in seeking to preach and teach the Good News of Jesus Christ. I will encourage you always, offer correction or reproof when necessary and help you discern, discover and develop your response to God’s call on your life.
I ask that you pray for me and my family. I ask you extend God’s Grace to me when I am less than I was created to be. I ask you to forgive me if I have failed you or not extended Grace to you.
Where will this next year take us? What new things will we learn? What skills will we need to acquire to be relevant, vibrant and vital in our witness for Christ? What “things” will we need to “shed” or leave behind because they “hinder us” in running the race that is set before us? As we “run the race” together, let’s commit to cheering one another on in the race. When I ran in races, it was always an encouragement to hear folks who were watching the race cheering, however, it was even more encouraging to hear another “runner” offer encouragement, especially as energy, strength and endurance were being pushed to the limit.
I am reminded of a cheer we used to cheer in High School Pep Rallies – One side of the bleachers would start the cheer – “We’ve got spirit, yes we do! We’ve got spirit how about You?” The other side would respond, echoing the same words, only trying to raise the volume and intensity of the cheer. This would continue on until the Band began playing some rousing rendition of the school “Fight Song”. Then everyone would be on their feet cheering together and joining their voices to cheer for the collective efforts of our school athletics.
Wouldn’t it be something if every Sunday was a “pep rally” for God and for the cause of the Kingdom? Wouldn’t it be something if when the people of God gathered to worship, they left worship energized, mobilized and filled by the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s call on our lives to “GO and make Disciples”?
“I’ve got the Spirit, Yes I do! I’ve Got the Spirit, How about You?”
See you in worship this Sunday! Wear your running shoes and let’s enjoy the race that is before us!