One of my favorite writers is Eugene Peterson, the person who paraphrased the bible in The Message. In one of his books, Under the Unpredictable Plant, he talks about how in the first church he served, he went to the elder board and said that he needed to resign. They were shocked because things seemed to be going well, but Peterson explained that he had come to think that being a pastor was not compatible with being a Christian. Now they were really shocked. Peterson, like many pastors and many Christians had substituted the work of God for a life with God. He was running a church rather than walking with God in a church. (Like only the easiest trap to get caught in and about 100% predictable for any person who is eager to serve God.)
In his struggle to understand what he should do (they didn’t let him resign), he had to get back to understanding why he wanted to do anything with God or for God. To understand those things he had to remember why he was even alive. What he wrote is one of my top three quotes:
“God and passion were the essentials for living. God was the ultimate reality with whom we most had to do. A passionate response was the only adequate response. . . . . . . . . God and passion. That is why I was a pastor, that is why I had come to this place; to live in the presence of God, to live with passion – and to gather others into the presence of God, introducing them into the possibilities of a passionate life.” p. 45.
I am very excited about our Open House this Sunday night at 5:00, at our usual place, United Church. I have had a great time inviting people this week. I so much want people to have the opportunity to experience the presence of God – especially those who may seem so far away from God, those to whom God has become totally irrelevant. And, I want to ignite Christians to be engaged in this transforming work of graciously gathering others.
There will be a band, comprised of some of the local artists in our area. Several people will talk about their involvement, and Iwill explain from the life of Jesus the vision of the Gathering Church. And then we will have a great barbecue dinner. Plus, we will be in air conditioning on one of the hottest days of the summer.
If you are in the area, I hope that you will come. If you are reading this I hope that you will ask God to work in this event.