by Rev. Javier Olivares, West District Superintendent
As I have visited with pastors and their churches in the West District in the last month, I’ve been amazed of the numerous ministries and people who’ve been impacted by these congregations throughout the years. Many churches had to change their ways worship of services and ministries through the pandemic. Innovation, change, resilience were words I was hearing as pastors and laity shared their stories. There were also challenges, discouragement, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty about the future among those stories. However, I had a strong sense that people had not lost their faith and hope; resources may have diminished but not their passion or energy. I witnessed that their love for God and for people has not waned.
Pastors, office staff, musicians, worship leaders, custodians, covenant councils or leadership teams, and so many people are part of that engine working in innovative ways to reach out to their urban, suburban and rural communities. I’m deeply thankful for being part of this engine at this time of our lives. Yes, there may be uncertainty about the future, yet in this liminal space we are invited to trust in God who holds us and embraces us. We are invited to continue to create new ways of ministry as we encounter “the Gardener” on our way to “Emmaus.”
The following prayer by Henri Nouwen, a Dutch-born catholic priest, author and theologian is my prayer and I hope it is yours too.
Peace be with you
As you draw me ever deeper into your heart
I discover that my companions on
the journey are people [sic]
loved by you as fully and as intimately as I am
In your compassionate heart,
There is a place for all of them.
No one is excluded.
Give me a share in your compassion, dear God,
So that your unlimited love may become visible
In the way I love my brothers and sisters.
Henri Nouwen (From With Open Hands)