Archive for May, 2010

Friday, May 28th Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

May 28, 2010

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

“What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

I woke up early on Monday, April 19th, to get ready for the long drive from New Orleans back to Houston and I realized that I didnt have anything to say for the days devotions. By and large, with a few breaks along the way, I had been beginning my mornings at the computer to write a devotion for the day since October of 1997. It has been a long time. I decided to take a week off from writing.

The next week began well before dawn on Monday morning as I hurried to the airport to catch a plane to Chicago for four days of meetings with the other folks of the Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission unit of the ELCA. I didnt write that week either. But every morning I thought about it.

Right now it feels to me like maybe a season in my life is coming to an end and another season is opening up. This is, according to the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, how life ebbs and flows. He also tells us that it is good that we find joy in the daily toil of our lives, that we take time to rest, and that, along the way, we continually seek to discern what God is up to as God shapes our lives.

What I only realized this morning is that April 19th also marked a year since I said goodbye to the wonderful people of God at Covenant Lutheran Church and began this new position in the synod office. That congregation was such a gift in my life, a vision of how the church can be and a loving reminder of the struggle it is to get there. My grief at letting go has lasted a long long time. Which is how it is when you love somebody, especially hundreds of somebodies who are all precious children of God.

I began writing daily devotions on the other side of a traumatic time in my life. I had come out of a turbulent time of healing and growth which, like much true healing, feels worse at times than the pain that got you there and I wanted to make sure that I had spiritual integrity in my life. Sharing my devotional thinking with others was a way to stay accountable to myself.

I also wanted to give my people some tools to help them share the faith with others. Maybe it was tough for them to talk about the faith with a friend or co-worker, but surely forwarding an email wouldnt be too difficult. As it turned out, that kind of thing began quietly happening all over the world.

But now it feels to me like Im entering a new season in my life. Im going to finally listen to the voices of so many readers along the way (and the voice of my wife) and see what I can do to get a collection of these devotions published and available. I dont know if that is possible but Im going to try.

And now I serve a different congregation a congregation of the 124 congregations of the Texas/Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The rhythms of this new job are different than life in the parish. I spend my time now working with a wonderful synod staff, the pastors and leaders of congregations, all trying to find new ways to tell the old old story that leads to contagious living and generous giving. We have been given a treasure in the church and now we need to work together to turn around two decades of decline.

If you are interested in evangelism and stewardship, feel free to subscribe to the other blog in my life, the Mission Possible Network in our synod

Im going to take some more time away from writing devotions every day. I plan to leave this blog alone for awhilebut at some point I imagine that Ill be coming back.

Later this month Im going to be spending my summer vacation on the adventure of a lifetime – thanks to the support of my beautiful wife, Kelley, and her understanding of just how much I love to spend hours in the saddle of a motorcycle.

Thank you again for all of the support that you have given me through the years that you let me help you wake up, greeted you at your desk at work, or made it possible for you to share the faith with others by passing on something that connected. Along with Ecclesiastes, I pray that we all remember, I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him.”

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.