First, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for the Farewell Celebration on Sunday. I will always treasure the time we have journeyed together as laity and clergy within the Midwest District. I especially want to thank Pastor Dean Prentiss, Liz Bode, and Emil Jensen for planning the party and sharing my story as your Superintendent. After July 1, even though we will be in different parts of our state, we will still be together in the ways that our Lord calls us and invests in who we are, so that we may all better accomplish His mission for the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
With only a few of these to write, I hope that these Corners have provided some ways for us to discover how awesome our relationship with our Lord is. I was watching a movie from the ‘80s recently. I happened to turn it on after it had already started. I was able to hear one of my favorite quotes from the film: “I love Jesus’ style.” These four words are the foundation of what it means to be Christian.
As we consider these words, and how you and I embody Christ’s teachings, I invite you to look at the parables. Each one of these narratives is a request for you and I to see ourselves and each other in new ways. For Jesus’ contemporaries, the Parable of the Good Samaritan would’ve been very shocking to hear. How could an enemy of the people be an example of loving kindness, while two Jewish leaders intentionally passed by the injured man? The Parable of the Sower illustrates what no farmer would ever do, throwing seeds anywhere and everywhere, rather than intentionally planting them in cultivated soil where the growth and harvest is ensured.
The trilogy of the Lost Parables: sheep, a widow’s coin and the Prodigal Son, ask us to ponder how we care for the one thing that is lost, rather than let it go. In Matthew 25, Jesus shares the Parables of the Ten Virgins and the Bags of Gold in preparation for the Sheep and Goats passage. In today’s context, we struggle to imagine 10 women who would wait for their husband, who is late to his own wedding. The fact that 5 of them didn’t prepare for this wrinkle, and at the last minute, seek to recover, reminds us to be ready for what God asks of us at any moment. The Parable of the Bags of Gold asks us to share the gifts we have been given, with others, because one day there will be an accounting of what we have done in the name of the Lord.
“I love Jesus’ style.” Through His teachings and example, our Savior invited us to take on the mantle of the Good Samaritan, to spread the Good News everywhere, telling Christ’s story as we sow seeds of faith, because we don’t know when the words we share will take root and grow in others. We are challenged to find those who are wandering, and those who are lost, even if that means you and I must leave the security of what is familiar to us in order to bring another into our community and the Lord’s embrace.
We are to be vigilant, always ready to listen to and respond to the needs of others. Do we have a plan of mission and ministry? And how can we change that plan when we realize the people, we once served, are able to stand on their own and continue their life journeys? This is the post-COVID question we are seeking to answer. Who are the people in need today, and what are those needs? Some may be the same as before the pandemic. Our time of isolation has also brought new opportunities for us to be in mission and ministry with one another. How do we invest the gifts we have received from our Creator so that they will produce a harvest which is 100, 60 or even 30 fold?
Jesus’ parables call us to look at the world our Lord created in new ways, to redefine our relationships and to re-examine how we live out the Great Commission. Whether or not you have a favorite parable, I invite and encourage you to reflect upon them again, and to incorporate the inspiration they offer us to be bold and daring as we serve our risen Savior. And Amen.
Below are a few photos from Sunday’s Farwell.
To watch the Farewell service, please follow this link ⇒ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1VrMW6OgFE