Resolved for 2022: Hear the heart of Jesus

December 20th, 2021

My mission is simple. Get back to basics. 

The past two years in ministry were riddled with uncertainty, chaos, and this feeling of being lost. All this disruption, however, was the opportunity where I serve to strip down to the essence of what makes us a church. We’ve discarded the gold calves we built for ourselves during more than 50 years of ministry, and we’ve had some transitions in leadership.

To embrace the future, our congregations need to relearn what it means to be in connection with one another and in connection with Jesus. The nature of God is grounded in community, so we will need to work together to live into this identity.


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The big question for our churches: What does it mean to worship? Will we rebuild and rise from the ashes or will we turn back to our old ways and maintain a system that wasn’t working? We have an incredible opportunity right now to listen to the new voices that are in our midst and work together to build a new future, one with the current context in mind. Who is around us? Who has loved and lost? Who among us have gifts that we haven’t tapped into or who has a voice we had refused to hear? Let’s clean the slate of the world where we used to live and open our eyes to the world that we live in now.

In a season when we’ve been yearning to go “back to normal,” this idea of “back to basics” might give the idea that returning to recent practices is the answer. I’m suggesting something deeper. To explore our creeds, to live into the incarnational life of Jesus, to love one another, to pray without ceasing. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?

Most of Jesus’s miracles were performed where life happened, which was not typically in the worship sanctuaries. Jesus didn’t put on his finest clothing and merely associate with people who fit the cultural mold or knew the secret handshakes of the established synagogues. By analogy, in any given church we've been pushed beyond our walls, which required us to innovate. As the dust appears to be settling after the storm, we can see now what we are left with.  As we rebuild, before we drive the first nails, we need to take inventory of what is there. 

In my area, I’ve seen a group of people who love the Lord and yearn to be together in whatever ways possible. As good Methodists, we believe that where we meet, we eat. Much like Jesus’s ministry, meeting around the table levels the playing field so that real conversations can bear fruit. This year, I am skipping a great deal of the time I would spend in my office and replacing it with time having meals with those I serve. 

Jesus broke bread with the outcast, loved the sinner, and touched the leper. He gave his whole self for the betterment of the collective. Are we not called to do the same?

We are living into the pastoral equivalent of an unplugged music show. Stripping back the lights and the fanfare gives us the chance to hear the heart of the music. 

I'm resolved to hear the heart of Jesus.

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