As summer comes to a close, wrapping up another season of ministry at Suntree United Methodist, I’ve been reflecting on the “season” of life I find myself in: wedding season! If you’ve spent any amount of time with me in the last six months or so, you’ll know that I have been going on trips to celebrate as many of my friends “tie the knot” and commit to lifelong love.
With this commitment comes a few standard wedding practices: speeches, gifts, dancing, and many, many clichés. There are so many traditions and hilarious sayings that I have heard as I’ve stood next to my friends, and I expect these standard practices will continue. While I’ve been known to roll my eyes at the sweet and simple advice contained in these clichés, I remember they’re clichés for a reason. They contain a nugget of truth in a parabolic, yet simple way. In that way, they are important.
One cliché that sometimes is used around weddings, but especially around life transition, is: “Life is a journey, not the destination.” This saying is often posted in offices, homes, and in places of inspiration. While we may grow tired from hearing it over and over again in our culture, it is true! Life is not arriving- it is a slow process of journeying through the highs and lows, the mountains and the valleys, and the joy and the grief.
This is what our new sermon series, “Back to Basics” is all about. Sometimes when we follow Jesus we think that we will “arrive” at some version of perfection, love, or faithfulness. We think that we are exempt from continued discipline or effort, and that we can “rest on our laurels” in our faith in God.
Unfortunately, friends, discipleship is not a destination, either!
Nietzsche described faithfulness as “a long obedience in the same direction.” This is what being a disciple is all about! Even if we have been following Jesus all our lives, we are still moving on into deeper understandings of who God is, and how to love our neighbors well. In this way, our journey with Jesus never ends. Indeed, there is no destination until we reach our final rest in God.
I hope that you truly will go “Back to Basics” with us, engaging your faith in new ways and growing deeper in your relationship with Christ. All throughout this series we’ll offer options to engage in our various ministries and mission essentials. Pastor Annette and I are going to offer two opportunities for you to study A Disciple’s Path, which we hope you’ll sign up for on Sunday. This Sunday we’ll also complete our backpack project, which has been a part of our “long obedience” to the call of our missional God at Harbor City Elementary School. Don’t forget to bring yours in! Each of these things is an opportunity to engage the basics of our faith: prayer, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
In all of this, we will also talk about how God never stops shaping us, never stops working in our hearts and lives to bring about the fruits of the Spirit. Our call is to continue to notice and engage in our faith, following our God to new places and in new ways.
Discipleship is a journey, not a destination. I hope you’ll join us in re-engaging our faith as we begin this school year again.
See you then,