Psalm 145:8-9,13 – The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving towards all he has made. (NIV)
I am an interim pastor. My job is to go into a church and help to prepare it for a new "settled" pastor. Looking at the goals of the church is part of this. Our "Thinking-Big Day", as I call it, took place on a recent Sunday after a church luncheon. Little did any of us expect the amazing display of God's grace that followed.
As our meeting started, one of the parishioners said that he had something to say. He told us the following story.
He had awakened at 3:30 a.m. the previous Friday morning with a very heavy heart. He felt very anxious. He was most preoccupied all Friday … he couldn't get away from this feeling. He came to realize that this church (meaning the people) really had to "move on" if they were going to develop valid goals.
Finally, Saturday evening, he was led to write a parable, which told of two farmers who lived side by side. They raised different crops. They each had a horse, and when they helped each other, using the horses as a team, they did very well. Then something happened, and they had a falling out. The next year, working by themselves, each had a terrible year. The moral of the tale was that they needed to work together.
The man told us this story, and said that this was symbolic of their church, and that if they were really going to "move on", they needed to rid themselves of the feelings, misunderstandings, and hurt pride that had emerged in the previous year and which had brought this church family to its knees. He then said that he would start by accepting responsibility for his part of the problem because he loved this church and wanted it to "move on".
He reviewed some of the painful things that had happened and accepted his role in it. His courage was truly remarkable as he bared his pain and asked for forgiveness. It was as if a dam had been opened. Others got up and accepted responsibility for their actions and asked for forgiveness. People ended by hugging, sharing, laughing, and crying. All were holding hands as we prayed together and sang, "Blest Be The Tie That Binds".
I have never seen anything like this before. It was beautiful, exciting, and transforming. It was a real turning point for this church. It surely was God's amazing grace in action. What a marvellous "moving day"!
Prayer: Holy and gracious One, Your ways continue to astound us and to move us to do things that we never could do on our own. May we all be open to the proddings of Your Holy Spirit, so that we, too, may move on in our lifelong journey, home to You. In Christ's name. Amen.