Christ is risen. Alleluia! Alleluia! He is risen, indeed. Alleluia! Alleluia! Easter is upon us and the challenge of it especially for our ministry, always remains: What if we really meant it?
We find ourselves in the middle of three seasons that each call for repentance and / or conversion.
- Lent requires us to look towards the impending Cross and evaluate where sacrifice is within our own lives.
- Easter, where we find ourselves now, reminds us that death and sacrifice are not the end of the story. Encounters with the Risen Christ demand a change in direction – the self-determined Emmauses in our lives are not the destinations where faith leads us.
- The Spirit of Pentecost emboldens us out of our rooms of safety and into the streets speaking of the Good News.
In a homily delivered on Holy Thursday, one of my pastors hung his message on the hook of Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps, if you are not willing to move your feet.
I’ve been asking the Lord to guide my footsteps and have made some baby steps…
But, when it comes to ministry, it has become increasingly insufficient and disturbingly unsatisfying when my prayers echo Psalm 25: 4 Make known to me your ways, LORD; teach me your paths.
It seems like, even if I know the ways and paths, I still feel stuck. The homily lesson reminded me of an episode of West Wing where President Bartlett is wrestling with a death penalty matter and being counselled by his parish priest (played by Karl Malden who had previously also played a priest in On the Waterfront.) In the closing scene of the episode, this parable offers insight into the difficulties in interpreting the will of the Lord.
There was once a man who lived by the river. He heard a radio report that that the river was gonna flood the town and that the residents should evacuate their homes.
But the man said, “I’m religious, I pray. God loves me, God will save me.”
The waters rose up. A guy in a rowboat came along and he shouted, “Hey, you! The town is flooding! Let me take you to safety!”
But the man shouted back, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me, he’ll save me.”
A helicopter was hovering overhead and a guy with a megaphone shouted, “Hey, you! You down there! The town is flooding! Let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety.”
The man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed and that God would take him to safety.
The man drowned.
Standing at the gates of Saint Peter, he demanded an audience with God.
“Lord,” he said. “I’m a religious man. I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?”
God said, “I sent you a radio report, a helicopter and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?”
So, I have previously attended or even lead presentations on the National Study of Youth and Religion, Sticky Faith, Divine Renovation, and it all turns out to be a radio report, a helicopter and a guy in a rowboat. I can be doing youth ministry better. I know better. I have seen the ways and paths, yet am I ready to move my feet? If I met my Maker at this moment, can I justify my existence and properly answer “What the hell are you doing here?”
So, here is my Easter resolutions, celebrating New Life by moving off the roof of a well maintained home that soon will be underwater.
- Better Organize for Maintenance. Seriously, maintenance is not all that hard, the more that I can plan and organize myself for these tasks, the more that I am freeing myself for the Lord to guide my footsteps. If I fail to do this, I am choosing to remain stuck due to the lame excuse of busy-ness.’
- Find rest and quiet. Holy Week involved a twenty hour schedule. It was a breather leading up to a climatic April. In the midst of it all came two brainstorms and this blog post. I was more productive by not being in the office striving to be productive
- Stop Being Important. More than once have I made a typo and mis-spelled important as impotent. The more it seems that I make efforts to be important, the less it seems that I actually get done. None of this journey is a sprint as much as a long distance hike. Keep my head down, put one foot in front of another, and keep on movin’ The will of the Lord is important, I jusy need to avoid getting myself in the way.