Another transition. Yesterday Milton Jones announced that he is leaving the Northwest Church, having been called to preach elsewhere. After 29 years serving the church here, it was obviously a day of some pain. As always, there were many questions asked, not all of which can be answered, and the church is now awash in a kaleidescope of emotions. There is grieving to be done, and a journey to be launched.
And I have a part to play, at least for the moment. The elders of the church have asked me to serve as “Interim Preaching Minister.” (I think that means my recent sermons were okay.)
What’s interesting about this in terms of my own journey is that this was not on the map until a few weeks ago. As I have told several people, it was not on the map, not part of any personal plans, not anything I sought or was ambitious toward, and yet, here I stand. It’s hard to know what God is up to at any given time, and today I label Him the God of Surprise.
Milton is leaving, but we’re the ones packing up for a journey.
I was both impressed and encouraged with the response of the church to Milton’s announcement. Deep sadness, expected confusion and loss of balance, and a palpable sense of loss. Yet person after person I talked to followed the expression of this loss with some sense of authentic optimism of what was to come. That optimism is something I both resonate with and am fueling with all I’m worth, not as a strategy to limit what might be termed “the fallout”, but as an honest sense of God on the move in our community. I have a deep intuition that life is about to come pouring into this church in ways that we cannot anticipate or predict.
Here’s my operating paradigm: we all need to be transformed. We hunger for it, we long for it, knowing that God has wrapped His creation in beauty and grace and glory, and that as we walk the earth, these realities call to us, revealing our brokenness and our need to be rescued and changed. We are the being-rescued community, inviting all pilgrims to walk along with us. Jesus came to bring life, and that life is both here and ever-coming. We embark on the journey trembling and ready.
Transformation is a journey, and just now, we’re packing our bags, headed for life in the Kingdom of the Heavens.
…not with eloquence, but with the Spirit’s power…