Last Easter I was a pastor.
I miss the tiny house church we pastored in Alabama. We had so many beautiful moments with them that I will never forget. Not least of which was Good Friday and Easter Sunday 2015. I believe Easter Sunday was sort of the apex of our time in Alabama. I began to think that maybe, just maybe our hopes and dreams would come true in Foley, Alabama.
You see, Karen and I moved to Alabama with our son Joshua in January of 2015 with a dream of bringing a global perspective and a fresh message of the gospel of Christ to my hometown. I quickly realized that our message would not be received by the masses, and even many of our own close friends. By Easter, however, it seemed like we had some momentum going and there was an excitement about the work we wanted to do there.
Several factors, one of which being my own shortcomings as an organizer and pastor, led to us losing whatever momentum we had built and just a few months later we were moving to Dallas. I felt the sting of letting go of dreams that I had. I do not know if I will ever be in full time ministry again, and that hurts, even today.
In a small way, I believe I understand what some of the disciples felt on Good Friday. All of their hopes and dreams had died with Jesus on the cross. They were left with great sadness and confusion about what to do next, as was I.
I think, however, that there is always a silver lining in these things. Obviously when Jesus rose from the dead he met and surpassed all the disciples’ expectations in a way they had never dreamed of. In small ways, I am already seeing Jesus do that.
I learned about a church in my hometown, Gulf Shores First Presbyterian Church, which is carrying out much of the mission I hoped to carry out when we moved home. Leaving Alabama became easier knowing that someone else was accomplishing the goals I dreamed about. One family who was extremely special to us has found a home in GSFPC as well, and every single time I see a picture from that church with one of these people in the background somewhere my heart is warmed beyond measure. Life bursts forth from the death of my dreams. Resurrection is happening.
Karen and I have found amazing community here in Dallas. First, with my good friend Eric and his wife Jill who welcomed us into their home with open arms. I do not know many people who would make the sacrifice Eric and Jill and their two girls have made for our family. We have become like family. Our conversations late at night after all our children have gone to bed have nourished my soul in a way I never thought possible. New life, springing from the death of my dreams.
We have found a church here in Dallas that is passionate about the things we are passionate about. Northaven United Methodist Church was and continues to lead the way in LGBTQ inclusion, they are on the front lines in the fight for social justice in our city, and our pastor has been arrested for protesting on behalf of immigrants in Washington D.C. We have a newfound excitement about going to church that I was beginning to doubt I would get back. New life, springing from the death of my dreams.
There is still pain and struggle for us. Oh how I long to be in vocational ministry once again. I do not know if that will ever be my lot again. I am still trying to come to terms with that and yet still find myself hoping, maybe hoping against hope, that this will happen somehow. But regardless of that I am able to look around and see new life springing up all around me. People told me the things I thought and spoke about were un-Christian, but I have seen without a shadow of a doubt that they indeed are not. I have a community. We will figure out our path in community. I believe that is what Resurrection Sunday is all about. Our paths may not be what we thought or hoped they would be, but we will figure them out, and we will journey them together…with Jesus at the center…and a community surrounding us.
Happy Resurrection Day my friends.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!