Of all the tasks I do as pastor, the one I probably struggle through the most is my monthly newsletter article/letter to the congregation. I am often just not sure what to write about and how to write about it concisely. I also usually wonder whether most of the congregation reads it, and I suspect that’s a rather demotivating factor.
Perhaps as I try to get back into writing regularly on this website, I should start to think of my newsletter article the same way I have always considered my blog: It’s an opportunity to share my ideas, open my heart, record personal history, and extend an invitation to discipleship. I do hope my congregation reads it, but the exercise of writing it is one of faithfulness and if even just one person who needs the words reads it carefully and finds something inspiring or something that affirms their calling, that’s a good reason to write it.
Here is an excerpt from our August Newsletter article. I will spend the rest of the months in 2021 using my newsletter space to reflect on the practices we will be sharing and learning about in my new Sunday School class (starting August 1). This month’s practice is “Follow Jesus.”
As Jesus was calling disciples at the beginning of his ministry in Galilee and Judea (and parts in between), he said to his would-be disciples, “Follow me!” (Mark 1:16-20) He called fishermen and tax collectors and faithful women to journey with him as he shared his message: “The Kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) These disciples would literally follow Jesus, hearing his teaching, witnessing his miracles, and being sent out to do the same.
For them, there were no altar calls–they answered Christ’s call every day with their bodies and resources. It wasn’t about a personal relationship with Jesus–it was about their relationship in community with Jesus, with one another, and with the strangers they were meeting each day. It wasn’t about Jesus living in their hearts–it was about Christ living in flesh in their world. It wasn’t about getting into heaven–it was about abundant life that starts right now and a Kingdom that God is building on earth.
For modern day disciples, what does it mean to follow Jesus? We cannot put on our sandals and pack a lunch and walk alongside Jesus as his first followers did. But we very much are called to follow him, continuing his mission in our church, community, and world. To guide us, we have scripture and the Holy Spirit. Scripture will invite us to read about what Christ did in body and what the Body of Christ did in the years following his resurrection. The Holy Spirit will be active inside and around us, giving us gifts that make us able to follow and minister and providing God’s light and guidance as we seek to be faithful.