As we move into the month of April (and as my dad would say), Spring has sprung! The famous San Diego weather has returned and the sun warms us free of clouds of rain. Fresh blooms are appearing, and the lemon tree (bush) in our back yard is producing in excess.
It reminds me of something we’ve talked about recently: resurrection moments. This month, we will celebrate Easter – a resurrection moment surely in the ministry of the Nazarene carpenter, and surely a resurrection celebration for us all as we move from the introspective wilderness of Lent and into the Easter season.
As we have discussed, resurrection moments can absolutely be singular unrepeatable moments, and they can also be smaller and yet equally profound moments. I hope over the course of these explorations that you have considered these moments in your own lives.
Very recently, several people have shared resurrection moments with me. This was especially prevalent and profound a couple of weeks ago when we hosted The Iowa State Singers in worship as they previewed the concert they would offer that afternoon. The worship service that day continued our sermon series on ways we can think about “giving up” some elements of our lives during the Lenten season and beyond, and the particular focus was on giving up superiority. Following the service, several choir members approached me.
One: “I’m not religious, but this service really moved me.”
Another: “I’ve never felt so loved.”
Another: “I had about given up on Christianity. Today’s service makes me rethink.”
And several hours later after an afternoon concert: “People are still talking about the worship service and what it has meant. Thank you.”
(Note: those of you who follow me on social media have seen these quotes.)
I was moved. In fact, I was moved to tears. It is incredible to be part of a worship community that embodies such welcome and grace and love. It is moving to be part of a worship community that has such an impact on people who have been present in this place for a single worship service. And it is an incredible privilege to be your pastor, to journey with you and alongside you, to learn with you and from you.
Much of what was affirmed in the worshiping community of PB UMC is that this is a place that is authentic. This is a place that is real. This is a community that doesn’t try to be something it’s not. This is a community that is unabashedly and unashamedly motivated by love.
I feel this great sense of possibility here at Pacific Beach UMC. I feel the energy and movement of the Spirit. And I hope you do too. It is exciting to be here and to experience worship and the spirit of connection that is alive each time we gather together.
I ask of you, I implore you, to continue to be authentic and real in the ways that you participate in your faith life and in the ways that you share your faith life. It’s hard for people to find a community that is truly about love and not about an agenda. It’s hard for people to find a community where they can exist and where they can participate knowing all of their failures and flaws because the rest of the community has flaws too.
As we continue to name our failures and flaws so that we might grow in our expression of God’s love, we will be beginning a new sermon series on April 30th based on the Adam Hamilton book ½ Truths. During this series, we will explore some of the things Christians often say that – upon examination – may do more harm than good. Examples of some of these phrases are: Everything happens for a reason. God won’t give you more than you can handle. Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Let us continue to be a community of authenticity and resurrection. May we continue to receive and share the love of God in Jesus Christ.