2nd Timothy 1:3-7 Common English Bible (CEB):
I’m grateful to God, whom I serve with a good conscience as my ancestors did. I constantly remember you in my prayers day and night. When I remember your tears, I long to see you so that I can be filled with happiness. I’m reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. I’m sure that this faith is also inside you. Because of this, I’m reminding you to revive God’s gift that is in you through the laying on of my hands. God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled.
I am sitting amongst the cloud of witnesses. There is a stack of funeral services on my desk; the church has lost several faithful Disciples that have guided and nurtured our spirit for generations. On the other side of this pastor’s desk is a much heftier stack of future worship services, sermon outlines and liturgical resources. The prayer list is not forgotten but threatened by its own burial in paperwork. Then there’s the sloppy stack of calendars with meeting minutes, agendas and the coming events to which I wish I could give more attention. I am sitting with the cloud of witnesses, but lost in a fog.
I do not fancy working behind the desk. My intentions and comfort are to be out in God’s creation in relationship with the next generations of faithful Disciples. My joy comes from engaging people in conversation and pulling more people into a dialogue. After all, the more voices vocalized, the more there is to hear about God’s activity in the world.
At a peculiar corner of the desk – it is strangely tidy – sits a small collection of “Covenant Cards.” A fair percentage of worshipers intentionally jotted down promises they felt they could live into this year and were self-motivated to anonymously place the other half of the card in an offering plate. The collection of cards does not appear significant, for they are smaller than a 3x5 and the perforations around the edges give them the aura of a ticket.
If my covenant were to hear more about God’s activity in the world, why wouldn’t I start by listening to the voices that have been faithful here for so long? All these covenants have the same theme. The people that worship in this space want to be of service, to be used, to have purpose and to become more than they are. These covenanted souls are on a journey to support growth, dig deeper, give more, and seek new duties. There are subtle and glaring acknowledgements of shortcoming within the written statements. These disciples want to pray, extend more grace, be faithful, and keep the promises they make to God.
We are in the midst of shedding tears, figuring out how we are going to make ends meet, and learning to adjust to the new reality for which there is no way to honestly prepare. Our hearts are riddled with voids from what we have lost. There is a yearning for those voids to be filed with joy.
Be encouraged. The generations before us, our ancestors, have been faithful. We are surrounded by faithful Disciples every time we gather for worship, table and fellowship. When we are together the spirit of timidity fades. The spirit of power and love comes over us to free us from the bondage of a broken world.
As part of your Lenten journey consider your promise to God and know that countless other Ohio Disciples have made their promise too.
Rev. Kevin C. Greenwald
Former Member of the Regional Transition Team
Senior Pastor of First Christian Church, Bellefontaine
The full Lenten Devotional Booklet can be downloaded by clicking HERE.