September 17, 2015

The Gift of Time

I am reminded again and again that ministry takes time. Relationships take time. Changes takes time. New life takes time. Even resurrection took three days, for heaven’s sake.

We are in a huge hurry in the church these days. In part, we are making up for lost time -- time when we should have been reaching out and were mostly reaching in. But just because we didn’t pay attention to everything that we might have doesn’t mean that new ministries and new efforts will grow overnight. Just because we are worried that we might die before we find ways to grow again does not mean that we can rush the growing process beyond its natural rhythm.

I am blessed to be part of a collaborative ministry that includes a parish I served ten years ago. That parish was struggling then, and it still has its struggles. But it has much of the vibrancy and freedom and depth of relationship that I dreamed and hoped and prayed for it ten years ago, very little of which I saw in the time I was actually there. The people who have hung in there with the ministry see the beauty of the church’s scrappiness and love one another more deeply than they did when I was there. They are more motivated to bridge gaps of culture and language because trust has grown, trust that they are all working with love to build one church.

I can’t take credit for planting nearly all of the seeds that have grown and flowered. But I hope and suspect that with God’s help I planted a few of them. Others who walked alongside me and came after me took charge of the watering, just as I watered what was already planted when I arrived. Seeing the change that a decade has wrought helps me to be patient in my current call, to plant seeds and resist digging them up every week to see if they are germinating.

In the midst of all the hurry, my dear ones, I am afraid we will have to have patience. In the midst of all the hurry, I trust that our patience will be rewarded.

Don’t let the lack of quick results keep you from sowing seeds and watering them, and watering the bare ground just in case a seed someone else has planted is under there. Don’t let the pressure from ministry grants and bishops and supervisors and stories of ultra-fast growth deceive you into believing that new relationships and new ways of doing things can be built overnight. Look for shoots of green, but remember that the really cool action is mostly taking place out of your sight, in the warm, moist soil.

Don't miss a blog post! Subscribe via email or RSS, using the grey box on the upper right.