PLUM Pastoral Message
Dear Partners in ministry,
“Come and See” and “If not Now, When?”
As many of you know, I have really become enthralled by the theme of this year's Epiphany Series from year 4 of the Narrative Lectionary Series which follows the gospel of John for our Sunday sermons. We've also been using “The Chosen” TV series theme for some of our Bible studies. What made these themes even more current to me happened last week when we were visiting with our grandchildren, who, immediately upon our arrival, ran up and in animated excitement grabbed our hands and beckoned us to “Come and See” as they welcomed us into their ever-changing world. When our response was less than exuberant and more like, “whoa there” or “wait a bit,” their comeback was “If not now, when?” They wanted a definitive reply to their request of inviting us into their world.
The old phrase, “we've never done it that way before” has truly taken a major hit in the way we can base anything for the future. Just consider how many things have changed in the way we do things, as we begin the third year of COVID 19. We prayed for years that we, as the body of Christ, become more active and involved in the life beyond our church doors. In many ways, COVID has forced and encouraged us to see the value in the many personal individual ministries that we are doing every day. And, some might say, that COVID isolated us and separated us which, in some ways, it has. It has also made us stronger, by strengthening our diversity and challenging us to look beyond the box of what “was” normal. We grew up in a time when the church celebrated our gathering together and allowed that to become the norm and identifier of what was “church.” We forgot our roots where we are called to be “evangelical,” or sent to proclaim (“do”) and be the body of Christ in the world, i.e., scattered.
This, in common terms, might be better understood as the difference between being a welcoming congregation and being an inviting congregation. To be sure, both are needed, but in most of our cases, I would assume we are more welcoming than inviting. We prefer people come into our doors rather than getting involved in the lives of people outside our doors. One avenue is safe, while the other takes a little more risk. And this is the part that I find most exciting because, in most of our lives, we are already doing this. It is in our various walks of life beyond our doors – those areas of our lives which consume our time, energy, and passion beyond church on Sunday morning. And, for each of us, it is different. Some are nurses, teachers, firefighters, ambulance workers, health care workers, electricians, moms, grandparents. The list is endless, and we are called to ministry in each of these areas, diverse as they are. Ministry does not stop once we leave the building on Sunday morning.
As part of the ministry of PLUM we have always pushed ourselves to be outside the box when it comes to the norms within our culture as churches. As we redefine ourselves beyond Covid 19 and, with the calling of a new Pastor and the retirement of Pastor Paul Koch (Thank you, Pastor Paul), as congregations, we again have the opportunity to push ourselves away from our comfort zones back to the church of our forebearers. And that is really a group effort. Our churches and ministries have a place for you and your unique gifts to flourish. If we want to be relevant churches of the future, we must pull together with all our blessings. I encourage you to come and see the many blessings we are and how we are better together. In the words of my grandkids, “Come and See,” and if you’ve been sitting on the sidelines and waiting for a more opportune time, may I ask you, “If not now, when?” There is always a place at God’s Table for you to be strengthened and equipped to go out in our daily lives. What better time than now? It’s a time to celebrate the Resurrection and “new life.”
I/we look forward to seeing you as we collectively journey together.
In Christ’s Service,
Pastors John, Brenda, and Susan
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773