Intercessor. My main role and greatest gift to the congregation is prayer. Period. The most important thing I do each day is to be in prayer with and for the people who God has placed me in the middle.
The above is from a piece I wrote a few years ago entitled My Role as Downtown Pastor. I review it weekly to make sure I am staying the course. The above snippet was the part last week that I found myself focusing on.
At no point in ministry, except for maybe the start of the Andover campus, have I been more aware of my need to pray for others. The biggest difference is that back at the beginning of the Andover campus days I did not have the disciplines around prayer that I do now and fell into quite a spiritual hole. I’ve written about that in other places so I won’t rehash it here. Having a practice, even what I would call a discipline, of intercessory prayer keeps me grounded and doing the very thing I know is the most important. And as if often the case, the very practices in regular times of existence become lifelines in times of trial. Almost eight months into Covid have proved that in my life.
Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks by Walter Brueggemann https://a.co/eOnbr5c
“The impact of 9/ 11, along with the loss of life, was an important turn in societal ideology. We have been forced to face new waves of vulnerability that we had not before acknowledged. The force of that fresh awareness is evident in the various scrambles for security that have ensued since that event.”
Fair warning – I’ve picked up Brueggemann again! So you’ll probably be seeing a few things from this Old Testament scholar over the next few weeks. I’m reading this book which he wrote in light of 9/11 with the lens of pandemic and it has been really helpful. Facing waves of vulnerability and scrambling for security is a powerful critique of where we are as a society right now. As the Great Depression changed a generation’s ideology and shaped their values and even practices – so will this time of pandemic. I’m not much of a prognosticator so I’ll leave that to others. But to think we haven’t been changed, or will be changed, is not a realistic view. The times in my life that have been the least secure have been the moments I have clung more to Christ. I pray that may be the change that sticks around after this season.
Jesus is conservative before he is radical; he honors Scripture, law, and the teaching office before he puts them under his sovereignty.11 Bruner, Frederick Dale. Matthew: A Commentary: The Churchbook, Matthew 13–28. Revised and Expanded Edition. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007. Print.
I believe the above quote is what Jesus meant when he said, “I come not to abolish [the Law and the Prophets] but to fulfill (Mt 5:17).” Christ is above all faithful to complete what he starts. That is why the apostle Paul could say with such conviction that “he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it (Phil 1.6).” In these days where so much is up in the air and I question many things, it is comforting to be reminded that God will finish what he began. My job is to stay close, surround myself with others who will point me to Christ, wait patiently and work diligently until such time as it is completed.