Today is my first "official" day as the newly called pastor. In the last two weeks I have preached a call sermon, bought a house, moved an office and a house and cleaned up after Hurricane Irene. Since then I have tried to find important things like the grocery store, my toothbrush and my laptop. I am blessed with truly amazing neighbors who have offered cookies, advice and a leaf bag and some pretty amazing hospitality. Even the sellers of the house helped us move and they patiently worked with me to help me master the security system and knowing which days are street cleaning, things that come with city life.
The church is preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary but like many, the population is mainly older adults, many of whom no longer live in the shadow of the steeple. Funerals are a frequent event (in fact I conducted one the day before I was officially starting). They and many others worry what will be the future, or maybe better stated, if there is one. And the refrain is "we've tried so many things and and we're tired" but they hope today is a new day. For every person who can tell me their connections to the church here in the neighborhood, almost as many tell me it's a shame that they are struggling. I don't yet have a good read on all of the reasons people who left did so. Or a good read on where, if anywhere else they went.
Then again, unsolicited, lots of people have tracked me down as the new pastor to tell me they have been waiting to meet me and they speak about coming back. Too soon to know if this is what people think they should say.
But for now I want to focus on the notion of "we've tried it all."
And I am reminded of the Gospel of Luke when Jesus approaches Simon Peter and tells him to put the boat out into Lake Genessaret. It's morning. Which means they have already been out all night and though they've tried everything, they haven't caught much. They are already bone tired and frustrated.
But they go back out in the boat and put out the nets.
Notice that they don't do anything new-the focus is on the fact that they followed what Jesus said in hope.
Everything changed, and abundance broke forth new possibilities in places that would seem incapable of yielding anything new.
Not because of them, but because of Jesus.
A new day dawned.
Often we feel we have tried it all. But have we remembered to take Jesus with us? More importantly, do we REALLY believe that God is the God of possibilities?
This takes herculean faith when late in the game it seems like there is not enough time or energy or life left.
May God give us the inspiration to make the shift that Simon Peter made when he stops telling God what is possible, acts in hope and faith and just follows.