What keeps you up at night? Do you ever have the problem of not being able to sleep? I usually have this problem when I am processing what has happened the day before or when I look forward to the next day. Tonight is no exception. It has been a long day and I was very tired, but after about three hours of sleep I woke up and could not go back to sleep. I tried to, but couldn’t. So I figured I might as well do something instead of looking up at the ceiling above my bed.
Tonight I am kept awake because of the changes that are taking place in my life. First is the changing of seasons. The season that we entered into is the season of Easter. For me there are more than just four seasons. My life is directed also by the seasons of the Church. The Church calendar is a great way to discipline your journey with Christ. There are 7 seasons to the Church; Advent, Christmas, Kingdom Tide/Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Kingdom Tide/Ordinary Time 2. Each season represents a different part of our walk with Christ. From new birth to death, from following Christ to receiving the Holy Spirit, each season carries with it a different aspect of discipleship. We have entered into Easter or the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection.
Lent is when we fast and prepare for Easter. It is a time of self reflection and self denial. It lasts 40 days till Easter. On Easter Sunday the self reflection/denial is over and we celebrate God conquering death and sin. Our time of mourning is over, life busts forth with the rising of the SON. For pastors Holy Week/Easter Sunday is our busiest days of the year. At the end of Easter Sunday we have celebrated all we could and the next day is both satisfying, and sort of a sense of let down.
All of our preparing, planning, and prayer for Easter is finished and it is almost a sense of loss because it is over. Think of it like Christmas. All that expectation and waiting and then the day after Christmas when all the presents are opened and food eaten you have the big let down. Pastors go through this a lot in ministry and Easter is one of the biggest let downs. Again the calendar helps because just like Christmas, which is actually 12 days long, Easter is 50 days long. We now get to convince our congregations that Easter lasts 50 days. We peach on new life, resurrection, new beginnings, transformation, and God’s hope. So tonight I am dealing with the future of the Easter season.
I am also kept awake because my time at my current church is coming to an end. I am being moved in June to a different church. Today I spent almost 4 hours talking to the current pastor of my new church that I am going to. It is a bit overwhelming. Processing the idea that my ministry is coming to an end at one aspect and beginning at another is a lot to handle. Preparing to say goodbye to people I love and getting ready to say hello to people I will love is a unique feeling.
On one hand I wonder what will happen to the people I am leaving. I have been in Arnett for four years. A lot has happened in those four years. As a pastor my ministry is built around building relationships. My relationship with God, relationship with my congregation, relationship with my community are all being built at the same time. You pour all your time and effort into these relationships. You have cried with people, celebrated with people, struggled with people, and grown with people. Now I begin the process of reflecting on the last four years.
At the same time I have the great hope and expectations of what God has in store for me. New relationships to begin, to grow, to live with is now put before my heart. As a pastor there is always the aspect of new adventure and new ministry opportunities, but building relationships is still the goal of ministry. Of course this comes with the dread as well. “I have to start all over again!!!” It took me four years to get to this point with my current Church, now I have to do it all over again. I think you get the picture, I have a lot on my mind and I CAN’T SLEEP!!!
Just like Lent ending and Easter beginning, I am ending one ministry to start another. For the one ending I am grateful for the growth God has given. For the one starting I am glad to see the new life that will come. In all this I must remember to HOPE! Hope is believing in the reality of God’s future. No matter where I go I know God is already there. No matter where I go I know that God is left behind to continue His work. 1 Peter 1 tells us this, “On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish…” God reminds us that our hope is both in the past and future. We hope in the inheritance that was established in Jesus Christ’s resurrection and we hope in the new birth that brings forth life.
No matter what season you are in, hope tells you that there is another season coming. A new opportunity to follow Jesus Christ. We are given a living hope because our God who was crucified rose three days later. Christ established God’s future in our lives when the tomb was found empty. No matter where you have been or where you are going God gives hope because He is always behind you and in front of you and that will never change.
So go back to sleep…