Friday, March 30, 2007

Easter Cancelled. Pastor's not ready!

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for...the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Sometimes don’t you just want to skip all the hype of Easter? It can be really stressful orchestrating all the events and activities of Holy Week. Yet for me the past nine months of our journey toward opening our new coffeehouse and concert ministry has been a daily dose of angst and anxiety. Just ask Amy Miller, director of Common Grounds, how we handled the stress. We’ve joked that it’s been similar to birthing a baby…only without the belly or the baby shower!

We’ve come quite a long way since last July when we first began swinging Krista’s sledgehammer against the old and rotting pegboard lining the interior of 35 East Main Street. Sometimes it’s hard to belief that we made it through those days of grime, dust and soot. And now that we’ve finally launched our coffeehouse and concert ministry the concerns and challenges of starting something so grand still cloud my mind. There still exists anxiety about what we’ve taken on as a small worshiping congregation.

The issues at hand are very practical and important to address as we consider the amount of resources available to direct these emerging ministries and address the security issues we must face in light of opening a “public” venue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those questions but find myself also thinking about the spiritual issues facing us in the same way. As much as these questions need to be addressed on a practical level...they also need to addressed on a spiritual level.

During the past two years I've lived between fear and faith. Although I had faith in the vision that God gave me to launch a ministry like Common Grounds, I didn't always believe that vision was going to happen. I had "seeing" faith...only believing when I could see it happen. The challenges we faced during the first year of our ministry together turned my faith into fear. I feared that my vision for ministry was not in alignment with the vision of our church. The two seemed incompatible.

I remember talking to realtors when we first decided to sell our old building. I was told that it was only worth $250,000...and that's all we could get. But I knew we could get more...and I had faith that we would. The next offer was $500,000. That was the top offer we would ever get...came the words from land developers that were attracted to us because of Wal-Mart being in our backyard. They were like sharks in the water, circling and waiting for the kill! I thought we could get more...but my faith had waned a bit since nothing better had come along yet. So we began talking to one of the sharks who almost convinced me that $500,000 was all we could get. But the day we were going to sign a contract with them, another developer called me and said they would give us $600,000. I put the contract on hold, asked God to forgive me for doubting him, and countered the new buyer with an offer for $675,000. They accepted. And with that our vision began to slowly materialize. And it did happen! God brought people to our church who took that vision to the next step. But somehow that unbelief and fear still exists!

So I have to ask myself again...what really exists behind my fear? Do I have faith that God can do the impossible? In the nine months since then we've spent much of that money on renovation, equipment and church expenses for our new building and ministry. I know that God supplied those extra funds so that we could build the vision that God gave us for ministry. But it is so easy to begin living in fear again that the remaining money will run out, and we won't be able to pay for what we've created. Once again, fear creeps in and robs us of our faith. The value in raising these questions is that they help cause us to face spiritual issues as we have faith that God can do what God said God would do? To bless us, and multiply our efforts if what we do is for the kingdom of God? Matthew 6:33 says it all, "Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and everything else will be given to you." Do we really believe that?

I guess the question "Are we ready?" represents my own journey to Easter. Am I ready for God's kingdom to come to earth? Am I ready for Jesus to be resurrected in my heart? Does God wait for me to believe it...or should I have faith in what God is going to do and help make it happen? I am really not preaching here about 'not' asking questions...rather I want to take these opportunities to address our fears in order to grow our faith. Questions are valid and important...and need to be addressed. We have to act on our vision and expect God will bring the resources into our church that will assist in creating that vision; a community where God's realm rules. If we build God's kingdom, then they will come. As above, so below…thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

For the longest time the vision of Common Grounds coffeehouse and concert ministry existed only in my mind. In the past two years it has grown tremendously, and has manifested into an amazing place ready to receive those that God is calling to us. That happened not just because of me, but because others joined us because they also caught the vision. Imagine what we can create when all of us share that vision...and really believe in it. The question "Are we ready?" forces us to consider our faith. Because God’s kingdom will come…whether we are ready or not. Jesus was raised from the dead whether the disciples were ready or not. God was ready...and that's all that mattered. Easter is coming. Are you ready?

Please continue to bring your questions and fears to the table...and allow me to face them with you on a spiritual level. That’s the value of traveling together. For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I'm ready!

Blessings on your journey of faith!
Pastor Brice