Your Monday Memo from Rev. Dr. Terry Walton
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Are we rowing or floating?

I was thinking...

Here we are moving through the first week of Lent.  Remembering past Lenten experiences is helpful for me.  Various things withheld from my diet for 6.5 weeks stand out.  Giving up chocolate, diet colas, sweets, and liver (just kidding) are remembered.  Various studies to focus my soul are remembered.  Studies on the Seven Last Words of Christ; the Lord’s prayer; The Psalms of the Lectionary of a particular year; “The Rule of Benedict” are remembered.  Sermon Series to help focus a community of faith on soul reflection are remembered.  Series entitled “The Power of Asking”; “Seven Deadly Sins”; “Walking the Cross-Way”; “Extravagant Faith” and “Characters Around the Cross” are remembered.

This year I have chosen for my personal soul reflection Richard Rohr and Patrick Boland’s new book entitled “Every Thing is Sacred: 40 Practices and Reflections on the Universal Christ”.  I am finding it to be insightful and contemplative.  Regardless of what you or I choose, the Church seasons lend themselves to a time of intentional study, reflection, and transformation.  I am especially grateful for the seasons of Advent, Lent and Easter.  For me, these three seasons help to organize my spiritual journey.  While Epiphany, Pentecost and Kingdomtide are appreciated, they have not proven for me to have the same impact in my personal spiritual discipline development.  

How about your journey?  Life can be so busy, so full, and so distracting that before we realize it, our soul has grown stagnate at best.  With regards to spiritual growth, I have heard my dad say on many occasions to the congregations he was asked to serve as a Part-time Local Pastor, “If we’re not rowing upstream, then it is certain we are floating downstream”.  His analogy begs the question, “Are we rowing or floating?”

There is a tendency that I have noticed and have fought across my ministry.  It is the tendency to be a ‘good churchperson’ as opposed to being a ‘growing disciple of Jesus’.  There is a difference.  A ‘good churchperson’ is loyal to church and the people with whom they are connected in a particular church.  A ‘growing disciple of Jesus’ is always changing with eyes ready to be opened, hearts ready to be stirred and feet ready to go.  In my opinion, one of the challenges of the United Methodist Church these days is that we are more populated with ‘good churchpersons’ than we are ‘growing disciples for Jesus’…In my opinion.

Why do I have such an opinion?  Perhaps it is because I see way too many church folks behave in childish ways as opposed to childlike ways.  Perhaps it is because I see way too many church folks more concerned with keeping their buildings for history sake than reaching their community for Jesus sake.  Perhaps it is because I see way too many churches that still worship (when they can safely) with a church full of folks that look just like them rather than worship with folks that look like their community.  Perhaps it is because the worship hour on any Sunday is still the most segregated hour of the week in our American culture.

These hard truths are truths that are hard to accept.  Therefore, Lent can be such an important and powerful time for me (and maybe for you too).  It is not always easy to look at ourselves in the mirror.  But look we must if we are to be ‘growing disciples of Jesus’ rather than just ‘good churchpersons’.  How is it with your soul?  Lent is a time for looking and seeing the soul’s condition.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Always thinking...

The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop
Copyright © 2021 The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, All rights reserved.

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