Chosen to Move
The Death of Abraham
This is the length of Abraham’s life, one hundred seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with his wife Sarah. After the death of Abraham God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi.
Chosen for Salvation
But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
Request for Prayer
Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
This week is packing week for many United Methodist pastors across the country. They will be moving to new churches in new communities and preaching their first sermons there in just under two weeks. We live each year through this season of anxiety or anticipation (depending upon how our current job is going) worried that this might be the year we get moved. When I feel overwhelmed by the concerns of moving I remind myself that there are many others, people in the military for example, who are often called to move much further and with far less notice than I get. Overall, it is not that bad at all. But I am still thankful that I am NOT packing boxes and moving this year.
Why do pastors move at all? Whether we are part of an itinerant system or receive a congregational call the fact is most pastors serve more than one church in their lifetime. The reasons are varied from seeking promotions, accepting calls to specific ministries or places, trying to move closer to family, conflict at work, better jobs for spouses… pretty much any reason anyone else ever changes jobs. Overall, Senior pastors tend to have smoother transitions than youth pastors, for example, who change every 18 months on average. Underneath the church traditions and policies though, I think there are 2 truths that guide this whole process.
1. We are created to move.
Abraham and Sarah were buried in land they had to purchase because at 80 years old, God called them to move. It was that faithfulness in packing their lives up and following God that started the people set apart as God’s own chosen people. Paul was not called to stay in Jerusalem and start the church there. God sent him to spread the gospel everywhere, and God calls us to do the same. Some people believe that there are two types of Christians: those called to move and those called to stay… which heads to the second truth.
2. We have to move to live and grow.
Living things move. Even if they, like trees seem in perceptively slow. When we stop moving, we die.
Church congregations are no exceptions. We feel the tension, the need for growth And change which requires movement. When the tension becomes unbearable, something has to give, and practically speaking, it is easier to move a pastor than to move a church. While hundreds (maybe thousands) of pastors are moving this month dozens of churches are closing their doors for the last time, in part because it was easier for them to just keep moving their pastors than to do the hard work of moving the church to the people that need to be touched by God’s saving grace. Easier does not always (or even usually) mean better. Dying requires less effort than picking up your mat and walking to someplace new.
What is moving in your life?
Where is God calling you to move?