The Pondering Pastor

These "Ponderings" originally appeared as articles in our church newsletter or bulletin or just as the musings of one bald pastor. I place them here to encourage you, my fellow blogite and maybe to help us all in our pondering.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

ARE YOU A HOBBIT?

Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's T...
Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I BELIEVE THAT HOBBITS AND CHRISTIANS HAVE MUCH IN COMMON. After watching the movie adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Hobbit it is easy to note some of the similarities, at least among the Christians of the West. They like to live together in sheltered beautiful areas, away from the messy stuff of life. They enjoy keeping their things in order, and when hospitality is called for, even when unexpected, they at least begrudgingly offer the warmth of their homes. They love a good story and are good at keeping long developed relationships. But, they are not much for adventure, at least an adventure that they feel duly unprepared for and which can end in seemingly unpleasant ways. No, Hobbits, like an awful lot of Christians of the well-protected western world, would rather stay safely among their own and carry-on as usual.

But every once in a while you meet a Hobbit like Bilbo Baggins. He loves the comfort and order of his own home and life, and yet there is something within him that calls him to an adventure, one in which there is no guarantee of return. As the story progresses (warning spoiler alert ahead) we discover some depth to Bilbo, one that is being a man with a home can understand and sympathize with a people whose home has been taken from them and who are seeking to gain it back, even when those people are very unlike him in so very many ways. Our Mr. Baggins is not of the bravest sort, nor does he possess skills needed for a dangerous journey, but what he does possess is a desire to help others find a home to enjoy and live at peace, just has he has in his own little shire.  Well, enough about Hobbits, what about us?

Last year we invited you to join us on a journey, a journey that we prayed would not allow you to return unchanged. The journey was the adventure of reading through God’s Word through the course of the year. Some of you ran with gusto into the adventure longing to find new and exciting vistas. Some of you came along begrudgingly, not wanting to be left behind, or to be judged as lazy. Some of us found the journey daunting at times, the passages were difficult to understand, there were names that were nigh impossible to pronounce, and we seemed always in the process of catching up. I dare say some of you gave up, but many, I dare say, continued to push on through names and places, laws and legislation. There were times in which the words came alive, and your soul was touched, maybe you even felt called to action. There were times that you just could not stay within the bounds of the daily suggested reading and pushed ahead desiring to see what truth lay around the turn of the page.

For those of you who ventured out into this adventure, I commend you, even if you did not finish, for you see the goal was not to just say we read through the Bible in a year, but rather that the Word of God got a hold of us and changed us and pushed us to do that which we felt we were unable to do. You, like Bilbo, struck out on a journey and in the process found yourself desiring to help others find a way home; the home which the Lord created all of us to enjoy. You may have found a new courage in you. You may have found yourself surrendering to the work of the Holy Spirit in and through you. You see, that is why we are to be in the Word of God, not to gain simple knowledge, but rather to be changed by the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the journey, He is the One who knows the way, and who brings the weary and beaten down soul to the home they so need and desire.

This year I want to call you to join me on another journey, one that once again will call us out of the safety of the sanctuary and place us in the midst of a world that desperately needs to know the Savior and King that you know.  The journey will be rough and challenging at times. There will be times that I am sure you will fall behind, desire to give up, settle on living the life of relative safety and ease within the household of God. Yet, for those who determine to join the adventure, I can guarantee that your life will be changed, and changed for the good. You will be drawn to the Lord in deep and new ways. You will be challenged to do things that are new, maybe even strange sounding to you and yet if given the opportunity to follow these new paths, you will be drawn to new vistas that may very well take your breath away and leave you longing for more of the Holy Breath of God to fill your lungs, enriching your spiritual blood with holy oxygen which will enliven every sinew of your spirit, (and maybe your physical body as well.)

The journey I am asking you to join with us in is a Journey from Ashes to Fire. It is a daily walk through the Scriptures and spiritual writings. There will be times of prayer and the practice of other spiritual disciplines. There will be times for you to respond in word and in deed. It is a journey with a cost. It will cost you in time and discipline. It will cost you in the experiences of trying something new. It will cost you as you seek to deepen your relationship with God and with His people. It will cost you financially as well.

The Journey from Ashes to Fire, is an adventure that will find its beginning on Ash Wednesday and will continue through the period of the Christian calendar known as Lent. We will walk the path with our Lord as we remember His journey to the cross. But it does not end there: No, this adventure will take to that glorious day of His resurrection and on until the Holy Spirit comes upon the church with His fire.

The Journey from Ashes to Fire will be a journey which will include our Sunday morning time in God’s Word. It will include daily time with the Lord, and for those who choose the adventure, will be heightened through our Community groups.  This is a journey for all ages. A journey for the young and the old, for seekers and for those who have been found. I am praying that we will walk this amazing path together. We will need the encouragement of others along the way. I pray, that even now, you will ask the Lord to prepare your heart and soul for the adventure. I know that lives will be changed, maybe even yours.

Will you join us? Keep your eyes, ears, mind and heart open, and ready yourself for a journey that will bring us home again, and even might bring those we encounter along the way home as well.

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