I am convinced that the pastoral vocation is not one of mandating behaviors or ordering people to live in a certain way (how great would that be?!) but rather inviting those you shepherd into the life of faith. To living from the grace of Christ, in a vastly different way than our prevailing culture. To sacrifice, valuing others, experiencing the presence of Christ among other things. Revealing your life as persuasion for others to join the Jesus way.
From this realization and alignment then I have been thinking today about what it means to move forward, into a new sense of life, instead of "getting back to normal."
Normal wasn't working. It was riddled with anxiety and the glossing over of the ills of society, as long as I got mine who cared. Even faith too often served as an accessory versus a priority. But what comes next doesn't have to look or act the same as before.
We have the opportunity to be formed by this moment for what's next, for great moves of God in the church, for fervent evangelism in our communities, and unrelenting love of our neighbors, the least among us. We can make surrender to Jesus and the newness of life he provides our main thing.
This is what I am up for. Forward to the new. I don't think I can argue you into it. That sounds exhausting anyway. But I can let you see what it looks like as I attempt it. I can let you in on how I battle to find joy and trust in the Lord in the middle of highs and lows. I can show you places where renewal is taking root and invite you to join in.
You don't have to follow me, but I do think you should follow Jesus. At least that is who I plan to keep following. And he wants you to step forward to the new.