"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John 14:12-13
With the approaching celebrations of the Ascension of our Lord and Pentecost, we will have completed our annual walk with Jesus, through the events of his life; those events that dramatically demonstrate our God’s steadfast love and mercy for the whole world! Calling to our remembrance how unique our revelation of God is (that God chooses to come and participate in his creation and do the work of bringing new life and salvation to all) we have a precious gift to share with this increasingly diverse world in which we live.
But challenges abound! The early church has nothing on us!! We have stereotypes of “church” to counter. We have troubled histories to account for. We have demographic decline to recover from. We, who are called to be the community of Christ, have a world that is rapidly losing its ability and its desire to live in community of the none-electronic variety. Whether we like it or not we are in competition with all manner of secular, religious and spiritual ideologies as people go shopping for meaning on the worldwide web in the privacy of their own homes.
The wonder and blessing of PLUM is that we are tackling these issues together, pooling our ideas and providing each other with support and encouragement. We are the body, the community of Christ, and we all have a role to play! Just as St. Paul said to the Corinthians: One is a hand, one is a foot, one is an eye, one an ear, one provides heart, etc. But, all together, we can and will do the work to which Jesus has called us. We pastors appreciate this blessing and encourage our congregations to recognize it and grow into it! In fact, Jesus promises that we will be able to accomplish greater works than were accomplished in his ministry!!
Greater works for those who trust and call upon him !?! That is quite a promise; a promise that was fulfilled through the faithful work of the disciples as they spread the Good News that began with a small band of followers and grew into a world-wide church. And it is a promise that is as real and as hope generating for us!
So where do we go from here?
We need to claim the vision!
The problem is that most of us don’t have a vision for the future of our congregations! Our vision is stuck in reproducing for what was instead of imagining what could be: what greater work we could be doing.
As we head into the summer season (which, by the way, is the season of Pentecost when we focus on our spiritual life together as the body of Christ, empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit!) and we begin our planning for the fall, we will be spending time at Council meetings, in Bible study and anywhere else we meet together reflecting on two questions to get us moving on formulating visions for mission in our congregations. They are:
1. What is (fill in the name of your congregation) Lutheran Church known for in the community?
2. What would you like your congregation to be known for in the community?
Pray about it. Give it some thought. Let your imagination run with it! Be prepared to share your ideas! Throughout the summer, we will be praying that God will bless our efforts in Jesus’ name and then see what greater works God has in store for us!
- Pastor Beth
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773