Dear St. Lukers,
2020 is a big year – John and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and I will turn…well let’s just say it’s a big birthday year for me. It may take me a while to be able to say the word!
What I had not even considered is it is another anniversary year for me as well. This week while serving on the Board of Ordained Ministry, one of my colleagues stopped me and reminded me of a trip we went on 25 years ago. I was in youth ministry and along with several other Central Florida youth directors we attended Youth Ministry classes at Perkins seminary at SMU in Dallas. This colleague was there, along with the youth leaders from St. Luke’s, current St. Luker Angie Winn (who served at Sanlando UMC) and I believe Steve Schneeberger (who was serving then at FUMC Orlando). It was my first taste of a seminary class in theology and biblical studies and the conversation left me hungry for more. I began to feel restless and unsettled that week.
The last day, this colleague, who I had known since his wife was appointed to a church in Tallahassee, shared he had answered God’s call to attend seminary and seek ordination as a pastor. He shared a song he wrote about serving the church and saying yes to God’s call in his life. I don’t remember the words, I believe the song might have been about Moses, but I do remember weeping. The words he sang were the words on my heart. I knew it was time, time to trust God, go to seminary and explore if pastoral ministry was my next step. I loved youth ministry, but I dreamed of a church as vital and accepting as what I was experiencing. Twenty-five years ago this week, I said yes to this burning desire to make God’s love come to life not just for youth, but for the church.
That burning desire was a vision I had that would not let me go. It kept me up at night. I could see it, sense it…and I had to know if it could be real. A vision of a church that was welcoming, and like my youth, hungry to invite people to know God and love one another, eager to work as witnesses of love in serving and speaking out for justice. I had seen that vision in little ways in so many churches, but what if it could be a big church, making great impact, and somehow, I could be a part of it.
Twenty-five years ago, I said “yes” to God…yes to this vision of a church that knew God’s love as a noun in such radical ways, that this love would become a verb and change an entire city. Twenty-five years later, what a blessing it is to serve the church in that vision. A church where love is active, moving, shaping, changing, creating, healing, and building. A church where love is a verb.
This Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Pastor Jeremy will be preaching on the prophet Amos’ vision of God’s justice and fierce love from chapter 5. We will also be sharing from Dr. King’s works that prophetically called the church to carry out God’s active love for all people. As you read and prepare for worship this week, we invite you to not only read Amos 5, but take time to listen or read Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail or his sermon preached just months before his death: The Drum Major’s Instinct.
Hear God’s prophet from Scripture who walked among us, who reminds all, who call themselves God’s own, that when you say “yes” to God’s love…God’s noun must become a verb – through the church… through you.
Thanks for sharing this anniversary with me and for making a dream come true.
Grace and Peace,