Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
(Psalm 42:11, NIV)
When I got into ministry, I wasn’t entirely sure what it would entail. I don’t know if anyone really knows what being in ministry entails.
When I announced my intention to go into ministry, the District Superintendent at the time listened carefully to my call to ministry, thought about everything I had said, and replied, “If you can imagine yourself doing anything else at all, you should do that.”
He told me I was entering ministry in a time when most mainline denominations were in serious decline.
Members were leaving the church, new people weren’t moving into small communities let alone going to church, and young people were doing a zillion other things on Sunday other than going to church.
I smiled and knew that I was responding to God. Even today, I can’t imagine myself doing anything other than being a pastor. It’s not easy but there isn’t anything else I’d rather be doing.
While those things around declining church attendance are indeed hard; nothing is as hard for me as losing the people I have grown to love.
On Sunday morning I miss seeing Norma Cannon sitting with the adult Sunday School group and her ferocious sense of humor and robust personality.
I miss hearing Don Hill’s voice as he leads us through a brilliant children’s message and reading God’s word so beautifully as liturgist.
I miss looking back towards the final rows before the sound system and seeing Norton’s huge smile that often put my nerves at ease when I first got here.
I miss Don Lowman’s contagious laugh, feeling his kindness, and of course his infectious love for this church.
I miss hearing Bill Frye’s incredible stories of La Junta and our church as well as watching him stroll in late as he did so often.
I don’t think worrying about the decline of mainline denominations or even the ups and downs of this church is the hardest part of ministry. I think the hardest part of being a pastor is saying goodbye to those that the Lord calls home, whom I have grown to love so deeply. I feel their absence every single day. I can only imagine how all of you, who are their family and longtime friends, feel. I am thankful that I was able to get to know each and every one of them.
Our scripture reading today reminds us that we mustn’t let our souls be downcast or downtrodden. If we are to call ourselves followers of Jesus, we must put ALL of our hope in Jesus Christ ALL the time.
While we will be sad we mustn’t let ourselves get stuck there.
Christmas is a time we should celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. John 3:16 tells us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” For unto us (that means you and I) a child was born; the greatest gift ever given. Even as we do the celebrating, we need to acknowledge the ways we are mourning, grieving, or feeling disconnected.
Tonight, we will have a Blue Christmas service and will gather to name those things (lost relationships, jobs, finances, resources, freedom, even hope) as well as even naming the people we miss this Christmas season. If you are feeling blue this Christmas season, I invite you to join us in community for a special service to pause and give space for naming and grieving those things bothering us this Christmas Season.
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward
We are meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and 11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays in the Fellowship Hall.
Join us on the Second Sunday of every month for good food and good fellowship.
Military Appreciation Breakfast
Third Saturday of the month, 8 a.m.:
Veterans and Active Military and their Significant Others, join us for a hearty breakfast as we share our appreciation for your service.
United Methodist Women Monthly Meeting:
Third Thursday of every month: October 21, November 18, and December 16.
United Methodist Men's Monthly Breakfast:
*Postponed Until Further Notice
Tuesday: 8-12 am
Wednesday: 8-11 am
Thursday: 8-11 am
La Junta United Methodist Church
601 San Juan Ave
La Junta, CO 81050
Phone: (719) 384-7717
Facebook: La Junta United Methodist Church
Or use our contact form.
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