Go in Peace Serve the Lord...
A few months back I was at a Pastors’ Conference. I’m not a big fan of Pastors’ Conferences. I won’t go in to details, but let’s just say that I’m still recovering, only now do I feel stable enough to talk about it. But there is one story from the event that I think showcases a lot of my frustrations with Pastors’ Conferences in general.
All the pastors gathered together each day for worship -- a good idea. But a funny thing happened. The worship service ended with the Worship Leader joyful proclaiming: “Go in Peace Serve the Lord!” and all the Pastors responded back with gusto, “Thanks be to God!”
And then, immediately after we had all proclaimed our thanks to God, one of the event leaders shouted, “But not yet! We have some announcements and house keeping items to take care of.”
And I realized at that moment, that this was a perfect example of my frustrations with church, and in particular, Pastor Conferences. Let me explain...
11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:11-12)
When Jesus heals this man he is so very simple with his commands. It’s not some big elaborate magic trick, it is a miracle of healing and all Jesus says is "Take your mat and go”.
I have a hunch that our lives of faith aren’t meant to be big and elaborate productions. I have a hunch that all we really need to be told is, “Go.”
We say things all the time like “Go in Peace Serve the Lord”, but then, how often do we add a “But not yet!” ? At Pastor Conferences we spend all day taking about ideas of what Pastors might one day, possibly do, but we don’t spend any time actually going out into the world and serving God’s mission.
When I hear about the depressing statistics of church membership, I know that the church is in need of healing. When I hear about all the ways that people have been wronged and abused by the church, I know that the church is in need of healing. And when I go to Pastor Conferences where I’m told to “Go in Peace, Serve the Lord… But not yet!” I know that the church is in need of healing.
And I’ve got to think, that if Jesus came back tomorrow and healed the church, he’d say the same thing he said to the man who could not walk: “Take up your mat and go”.
Healing is so often found in the outward action; in looking beyond ourselves; in looking beyond mere ideas and actually living into the gifts that God has first given to us.
We are called to go in peace and serve the Lord... right now.
May we be brave enough to simply go and may we find healing and peace in serving the Lord, right now. Amen.