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What We Leave Behind

posted Feb 1, 2019, 11:05 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Greetings of grace and peace in this continuing season of Epiphany!


In preparation for our annual congregational meeting this Sunday, I’ve been reading over the reports from our various committee chairs. My goodness, MRC, what a great year we had in 2018! I am very grateful for all we have done in order to share God’s vision where the inclusive grace of God is the guiding principle for all our ministries. Truly, we are people of faith committed to boldly proclaiming and intentionally living out God’s command to do justice, share love, show mercy, and walk humbly with our God in our local and global communities. We continue to be a church on the side of love for all God’s people – providing for those who are in need, advocating for all oppressed peoples, and caring for our earth – we love because God first loved us (adapted from our Vision Statement).


And yet, knowing this about our church, I began to look inward, and my Protestant work ethic started to point at me accusingly. As I was looking back on what I had accomplished, I couldn’t help but feel I could have done more. I then began to fret about the coming year, telling myself I needed to do X, Y, and Z, and wondering what I would achieve, or if I would achieve these goals, as the need to complete them were weighing hard on me. Still fretting, still muttering, I walked through my bedroom and glanced down at the Daily Guideposts devotional sitting on my bedside table. It occurred to me that I hadn’t read a reflection yet from the book. So, I sat down on the bed, opened the book to the appointed day, and began to read a devotion by Rebecca Ondov. 


The story was of a woman who was struggling to discern her goals for the new year. Usually such goals were clear to her, but this January, everything was muddy. So, asking God for direction, and seeing it was a nice day for a hike, she decided to climb a nearby mountain with her dog. As she did so she kept asking, What am I going to accomplish this year?


No answer. 


Finally, she got to the peak, and looked at her watch. Congratulating herself for making the climb in an hour, she looked around. There on a knoll was a rock cairn left behind by another hiker. This simple altar took her by surprise. And then she heard a voice whisper, Life isn’t about what you accomplish. It’s about what you leave behind that honors God.


I kept reading those two sentences, staring at them until they became blurry on the page. I looked up from my book and sighed, knowing I had just been whammed by the Holy Spirit. I almost expected to see Her gazing intently at me! I then continued reading.


Ondov finished her story, I’d been restless about this year’s goals because I was focused on myself and what I wanted to accomplish. I hadn’t chatted with God about what God wanted me to do. On the hike down the mountain, I realigned my thoughts and got back on track.


I felt so seen and exposed by that reflection, as if the writer was reading my mind. But, I realized it wasn’t the writer who had seen me, but it was the Holy Spirit who had guided me to that book on that day to “realign my thoughts and get me back on track.” It was then that I realized that as wonderful as my/our accomplishments are at MRC, what I/we do today must have the ever-present vision of leaving behind what is honoring to God, whether it be tomorrow, or next week, or in years to come. Because it’s not I/we who do ministry and accomplish “goals,” but it is the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us to make sure those “goals” are signposts left behind that honor God.


After a while, I sighed again, closed the book, and said a very simple prayer, “Thank you, God,” grateful for a much-needed lesson.


I look forward to welcoming you on Sunday at 10:30 AM where we will worship and honor God in our liturgy; in our singing; in the Word preached; in our offerings; in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; and yes, in our congregational reports. We will also vote on the slate of nominees for the incoming Consistory. Following worship, we’ll continue the feast of the Lord’s Supper at another table in our Education Building with our First Sunday Brunch. A free will offering will be taken to support the ministries of God’s church.


As we gather on Sunday, I encourage us to remember, Life (ministry/church) isn’t about what you accomplish. It’s about what you leave behind that honors God. To God be the Glory!


In gratitude for the privilege of being your Pastor, and the holy call of loving you,


Pastor Trish


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