I am going to continue on the path that we seem to be on this year following rebirth, renewal, and this week, Revitalization. In other words, I want to ask the simple question of what gives you energy in your faith.
Early in my ministry I had the opportunity to work with a nun. In North Carolina the catholic churches in the rural countryside were pretty much all pastored by nuns with an itinerant priest who would come around to do communion every once-in-a-while. This nun was a special lady. About twenty years older than me she felt her calling in much the same way that I did. But being a woman, she never felt as if she would be in a congregation.
For years she did her various positions throughout her order, but on the verge of being burned out, she got the opportunity to work with this small congregation. She did not jump at the chance; in fact, leaving her order was more the direction that she was headed. For weeks she prayed about what to do, and on the eve of her renouncing her vows she had a vivid dream of her sitting with a group of Latino children telling them stories and laughing; she could not remember the last time she did that!
When she went into the office of her order to tell them about the decision, the head of the order asked if she would like to see a picture of the congregation. She did not really want to, she had made up her mind, but sure enough when she saw this picture, she saw the children that she was telling the story to, so she listened to God and took the job.
Now for me it was hard to believe that this woman was ever unhappy, in fact, when I was struggling and needed cheering up I sought her out. The interesting thing was that she realized that God had called her to this ministry, and though what she did before was important, it all prepared her for the greatest of joys which was doing what she did in that church. Through, God and listening to his Call, she was revitalized in her ministry and faith and in turn was able to impact a lot of lives.
As those who are faithful, often we find that our lives of faith get stale; we also find that over time we tend to go through the motions of faith rather than living it out. In doing so our faith and work become far more of a chore than a joyful expression to God. Sometimes this even makes us resentful. My nun friend was!
However, when we listen and let God guide us, we find that we can be revitalized and strengthened especially when we allow God to do his work. This week I want you to think about what might revitalize you in your ministry and faith life. Think about where you are stagnant and ask yourself if God has ever given you a vision? What did you do about it? Has God ever shown you a way to revitalize your faith and what did you do about that? We will talk about this and much more this Sunday at the Gathering.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen