As your pastor, my life is centered on our church. (Note that I said "our church," not "our churches." We have two legal lives, but one life in Christ. We are one church.) As a single woman, I can over-focus on the church just like some of you may focus on your jobs too much. I can worry and obsess over where the money will come from and who will step up to take on the work that is the province of the congregation. I can lie awake at night and wonder, "what do we do now?"
Fortunately I have fleeting moments of sanity. In those moments I remember what I heard recently. A speaker said the question is not, "what do we do?" but rather, "what is God up to in the world and among us?" She reminded us that the initiative belongs to God. Our job is to discern where God is working and to get on board.
Now, that can be just as hard as trying to figure out what to do. It's scary to trust that God has a plan, and it's scary to commit to something that we may see only dimly. But it is the faithful way. If we worry about what we should do, we push God out. Discerning and following use as much energy as worrying and figuring, but they use it much more efficiently and effectively. It's the difference between worrying and praying.
Asking what God is up to also leaves open the question of where our church fits into God's plan. If we put ourselves at the center, we may assume that we have to keep our church going. But if we ask what God is doing, we may find that some new answer emerges. Does God want us to be here now? In five years? In ten? If not, we can serve God better by finding out what God is up to and getting on board. If God does want us here, why is that? What purpose are we to serve?
Please include in your Lenten spiritual practice a time each day to pray to know what God is up to among us. Pray that we as a church may be faithful stewards of what we have received and what we will receive. And when you think you have a sense of what God is up to, let me know!