Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pastoral Fears

Pastoral Fears.  Every one of us has them.  We look around us, and what do we see?  Society is in a moral freefall.  Attendance is down.  Shoot, how many of us are now at churches where the ability to pay us is in question (or at least soon looks to be)?

It's all falling apart.  Just admit it. It's falling apart - and it scares the dickens out of you. 

It wasn't supposed to be this way on your watch.  You were going to go out there and make a difference.  People would love you, and you would be dynamic and powerful and your congregation would grow.

And in reality, it's all falling apart.  Even if your falling apart isn't as bad as the next guy's.

And you doubt.

You lament like Elijah - I'm the only one left.
You sit like John in prison - Are you to the One to come, or do we look for another?  Do we look for another, because things aren't going to the way they ought to be!

We sit, and we wonder "what do we do... what can we do?"

And that is where the real problem sets in.

It's all falling apart - that's not the problem.  We know our eschatology.  We know we are in the last days.  We know that we are those in the tribulation.  Ain't nothing that happens in the world that should surprise us.  Shoot, Luther knew that the Gospel was like a passing rain shower, that eventually Germany would appreciate it no longer.  Should it surprise us that the gentle rain of the Gospel is passing in America?

No.  The problem is we wonder "What do *WE* do".  We.  Us.  Me.  A Law question.

If you start asking a Law question, you are going to start thinking up Law answers.  And all that does is stir up a bunch of hot air that blows that shower of the Gospel further and further along.

So let me ask you a question.  Have you lost your focus?  We are told in Hebrews to fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.  Because it's about what HE does for you.

You aren't alone in facing these fears.  The come all the time, they are the continual refrain of Satan attacking Christ and His Church... and especially pastors.

Sing a hymn or two.  Try A Mighty Fortress.  It's true.  Take they our lives, goods, fame, child or wife.  Though these all be gone, they yet have nothing won.  The Kingdom ours remaineth.

Sing Built on the Rock.  Here stands the font before our eyes
Telling how God did receive us;
The altar recalls Christ’s sacrifice
And what His table doth give us;
Here sounds the Word that doth proclaim
Christ yesterday, today, the same,
Yea, and for aye our Redeemer.

Or maybe you just want a poem.  Might I suggest a little Yeats.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Yes.  You have fears.  Of course you do.  What would you expect the Father of lies to stir up in you?  But this truth remains - Christ Jesus was born, Christ Jesus died, Christ Jesus has risen, and you are forgiven and redeemed, and there's not a fear or sorrow or junk in the world that can change that.  Jesus Lives... the Victory's won.  Really.  It is.  He has done it.

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