By Judy Zabel
Grace and peace in this Lenten season of reflection and repentance! As the light is longer these days, we anticipate new life soon to burst forth from the earth. I'm waiting on those tulip bulbs I tucked into the ground last fall. I'm looking forward to seeing their little green tips coming through the muddy ground. Spring is my favorite season. I'm reminded that no matter how muddy my life gets, new life is possible. New life will always emerge, stubbornly poking up in the midst of the dankest of situations. I count on this. I put my hope in this resurrection promise. I hope you do too.
Last night I saw Les Miserables at the Hopkins Movie Theater. If you haven’t seen this movie, I encourage you to go see it. What a story of grace and redemption! What a story of love and power of forgiveness. The Church is portrayed as a place where people can begin a new life. What a great truth! How are you at helping people discover a new life? How are you showing the joy that comes when the old passes away and new life comes poking through? Is this true in your life? How? Are you able to show someone else or tell someone else about your new life?
Maybe you are in a spot in life where there is more darkness than light right now. Maybe you are not sure you can keep on going. Maybe you are tired of going to funerals and yearn for just one baptism. Maybe you have lost the zing in your step. Make no mistake friends, there is new life pushing through all over the place. Mission trips are being planned for the summer and new life is pulsing in our youth groups. Walker Community is just about ready to break ground on their new building! Minnetonka UMC received an award for their volunteer work at Simpson Shelter.
This week, a group of clergy will start a year-long process called Soul Leaders that will be sure to bear new fruit as they reconnect to one another and to the core of their souls. What does it REALLY mean to trust? What does it REALLY mean to live in a covenant with each other? What might be different if we allowed ourselves the freedom to trust in the goodness of God's grace and provision? What might be different if we really trusted one another to hold each other in prayer and good esteem even as we experiment and try crazy things for the sake of the gospel? Do we trust enough to risk failure? Do we trust each other enough that if we fail, we won't stand alone but that we will help each other up and encourage each other to keep moving forward?
I keep on praying that each one of you, lay and clergy will sense in a very real way the hope we have in Jesus Christ so we can lead with soul. I keep on praying that you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is eager to set our hearts on fire and give us new life each day.
District Superintendent Pam Serdar is a gifted writer. She writes:
God of passion, eager to set our hearts on fire,
Come to us now, as you have come to your people since time began.
Make a way of no way; open before us the bright shining path of Jesus.
Fill all our senses; change our hearts and bring us new birth.
May we see Christ in each other, and in each one we meet.
May we hear your still small voice in our study, our prayer, and our discernment.
May we know your abundant goodness in the yeasty scent of the bread and the sweet aroma of the wine.
May we feel your gentle touch as we pass the feast from hand to hand, heart to heart.
May we taste and delight in the bittersweet challenge to face the future with holy boldness.
May it be so. May God warm your heart in strange and wonderful ways. Amen. May Christ transform your heart so that you may serve others, with unflinching grace. Amen. May the Spirit fill your heart with love and joy for all of God’s creation. Amen.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church