What comes after the joy of Easter? Power and mission. For the seven weeks we have been joyfully celebrating the good news that Jesus is risen. We have been reflecting on some of the many ways that the good news of Easter affects our lives by assuring us that every end in God’s hands can be a transformative new beginning.
And now, the Easter season will end with the Day of Pentecost – a day that crowns the good news of Jesus’ resurrection with the pouring out of the Spirit of resurrection life on God’s people. The Spirit first given on Pentecost fills Jesus’ followers with the power that creates faith in God’s gracious love for us; that provides direction and guidance for our lives; and that provides the energy, creativity, perseverance and courage necessary to do what God’s Spirit asks.
The intensity and force of that Spirit is described as violent wind and tongues of fire. This is no gentle spring breeze that ruffles our hair but leaves us unmoved! It is a titanic force capable of moving everything – including us – to be God’s people in the world. Why is emphasizing the Spirit’s forcefulness important? Because we so often suffer from inertia and paralysis. We’re afraid, so we don’t do what God asks. Or we’re just so comfortable that we’d rather stay put. So God’s Spirit is a mighty Spirit that disturbs us, rattles us, sweeps us away, sets us on fire. We need such a mighty Spirit to set us in motion, and to keep us moving, once we’re in motion.
It’s not unusual in congregations to forget that God intends us to be going someplace and to be up and doing in Jesus’ name. While Christian faith requires times of stillness and silence in order to hear God’s voice, we listen for God’s voice so that we can get up and live as God directs. And God directs us to believe that we can do more than we think we can. We can take on big, hairy tasks in Jesus’ name, because of the Holy Spirit. Those tasks may begin small, like the mustard seed of Jesus’ parable. Nonetheless, those mustard-seed beginnings can become amazing irruptions of the Spirit that love and bless others in transformative ways.
The Transition Team has been getting acquainted and being trained in their work. In not too much time, they will be planning events and asking the congregation to participate. Working from the power of the Spirit, they will ask the congregation to get up and move in Spirit-led ways. The temptation will be to stay comfortable or to be afraid. So we are called to remember that the Spirit can and will get us moving – for the Spirit has important work for this congregation to do. Where that Spirit will lead is still unknown. But the call to move under the Spirit’s direction and power is clear. Now is the time to be filled with the Spirit, and then to move and serve as the Spirit gives GST ability to serve.
Thank in you advance for your willingness to follow the Transition Team’s leadership and participate in the events they will plan. Your willingness to respond will demonstrate your Easter faith. Jesus is risen! May his resurrecting Spirit of love move GST in powerful ways!
I’ve been writing this column for three years and I’ve just about told you everything I know. I may start making things up soon. Be alert. Here a few bits and pieces…..to be taken as truth.
- An administrator plus some of the older boys from our neighboring Townsend Street School come on Tuesdays to help the food pantry workers clean up at the end of their morning.
- Clean dishes in our kitchen’s dishwashers do not put themselves away.
- The Combined Council is now known as the Congregational Council. It’s called the C/C for short. Christian Characters. Cute Cousins. Conspicuous Consumers. Crazy Creeps. It all depends upon Tuesday’s meeting!
- Half empty bottles of juice left in the small ‘frig off the Narthex turn to nasty juice after a few weeks.
- Open bags of pretzels or crackers left for “next week’s use” in the Narthex cabinets are forgotten and turn stale after a few weeks.
- The person who finds these generous left overs turns cranky after a few weeks.
- Nineteen adults enjoyed coloring in “adult coloring books” at the March TPW luncheon and no one turned red in embarrassment…..must have been pretty pictures.
- The GST iceberg is almost melted off the front lawn. Spring is coming. God is Good!
- Someone tidied the narthex coffee fellowship cabinets thus changing cranky person to happy person.
- C/C Ministry Committees are seeking to add Christian Characters to their committees to help with short term projects. Will you make yourself available?
- Fourteen kids and five adults went bowling March 13 with Monica and all survived with tales of fun. Merry Christmas.
It takes us a while to get some things done at GST but be assured things are done properly and orderly…..at least that’s how we’re calling it.
The Transition Team will come calling. Will you make yourself available?
The Transition Team is formed and beginning its work! On Sunday, March 13, seven people were installed as GST’s Transition Team: Joy Harshberger, Vi Hawkins, Mary Hix, Henry Kranendonk, Kathy Myles, Beverly Stribling, and Lisa Quinn. In partnership with Pastor Wendy, they will lead the congregation in undertaking a visioning process in 2016, in order to discern how God is calling GST to be God’ s people in teh future.
Their first step will be to receive training that will aid them in doing their work. They’ve already attended a worship for congregational leaders led by Sandy Chrostowski of the Greater Milwaukee Synod (ELCA). On March 15th, they met again with Pastor Wendy to continue their orientation. After their training is finished, they’ll begin planning the next steps in the process.
What can you do to support the Transition Team?
First, pray for them daily. Prayer support is vital to the success of this process.
Second, participate when the team begins organizing events. The Transition Team’s purpose is to equip and lead the congregation in its discernment of fresh directions. so you are needed to participate!
Finally, keep up with what the Team is doing. Read future newsletter articles and weekly worship announcements. Listen to mission minutes during worship. And ask questions when you see one of the team members. They’ll be happy to share both their enthusiasm and the team’s progress with you.
Reflection verses for the month:
“But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said.” –Matthew 28:5- 6
“He is risen!! He is risen indeed!! Alleluia!”
Easter is my FAVORITE time in the church year. It’s better than Christmas. Yes, you read that right. I enjoy Christmas. But I love Easter–because it’s the fulfillment of the promise of Christmas, the fulfillment of allhuman hope, and God’s hopes for us. The news that Jesus is risen tells us that death and sin have been defeated. Both may still plague us, but the decisive battle against them has been won in Jesus’resurrection from the grave. Therefore, God’s love has won. God’s will for life, has won. God’s will for the eternal union of God with the world, has won. Because of Easter, the very structure of reality has been changed.Everything is different. Amazing, astounding news.
The challenge, of course, is to believe that impossible good news. We celebrate Easter for seven weeks in the church because great news deserves such a prolonged celebration. But we also celebrate for seven weeks, because we need to have that news unpacked for us, and reinforced within us. Like the first disciples huddled behind locked doors after the women have announced Jesus’ resurrection, we have to live into this good news. The old habits of fear and self-defense die hard. Doubts and second-guessing are easier than believing the women’s “idle tale”. But if it is true…well, how we do live differently? What changes in the way we treat people, in the way we spend our money and time? How does the bodily resurrection change the way we care for our bodies? We spend seven weeks pondering the infinite new world that resurrection opens. So after the Alleluias of Easter morning have faded, please plan to attend worship each of the next six Sundays. We’ll still be singing glorious Easter music, after all, and shouting Alleluia. And we’ll be reflecting together on some of the ways that Easter affects our lives. We’ll ponder how Easter emboldens the church to be church. We’ll reflect on how Easter encourages disciples to heal and serve. We’ll reflect on how Easter even opens the mouths of shy Lutherans and Presbyterians to shout the good news–because the good news is too good not to be shared.
Jesus is risen!! He is risen indeed!! Alleluia! Plan on being part of the celebration during the seven weeks of Easter!
THREE SUNDAYS IN JANUARY
During January, the congregation will gather to take
some important steps in our future.
Please save these dates and plan to attend these meetings.
EVERYONE’S participation is important!
January 17 & 24 (attend at least one): Forums on GST’s Future
Time: Immediately after worship
Topic: Pastor Wendy and Council members will present important information about the congregation’s current condition and share the Council’s recommendation that we form a Transition Team to lead the congregation in undertaking a mission and visioning process in 2016.
January 31: Annual Meeting
Time: Immediately after worship
Topic: The congregation will meet to celebrate its ministry during the last year; elect new Council members, deacons, and congregational representatives; adopt the 2016 budget; and vote on whether to form a Transition Team to lead a congregational mission and visioning process.
Your participation is vital! Please plan to attend.