Sometimes good news comes from unexpected places. Last night I received a report from one of our District Superintendents about the introduction of a new pastor to a congregation’s Pastor Parish Relations Committee, and it contained good news. Those report backs come along fast and furious this time of year, as the Cabinet and I are working to complete our appointment work. Each time a new pastor is taken to meet the PPRC for their new appointment, the receiving DS sends the Cabinet an e-mail indicating that the meeting has been completed and (almost always) that it was successful.
Last night’s report was from a church receiving a cross-racial appointment, namely an all-white congregation receiving an African-American pastor. We always make those appointments with some concern and hope that the congregation will be open, receptive, and hospitable. Last night’s report was over the top. The DS reported that the church’s PPRC not only approved of the appointment, but one woman on the committee exclaimed “this is a lifelong dream fulfilled to see an African-American pastor in my church!" The DS closed his report by saying, “It was truly an inspiration!”
Sometimes local churches really do seem to “get it” and to “be the Church.”
Meanwhile, last night I was visiting one of our churches which is growing from being a part-time appointment to become a full-time appointment. They proudly shared that their growth has come from their commitment to ministry and mission beyond their church walls, including their Shalom center where they feed hungry people in their community. I have no doubt that they have grown in strength and numbers and finances to the point of being a full-time appointment because of their passion for mission. Somehow being the church “outside the church” is one of the best ways for a church to also be strengthened within the church. It was another piece of good news from an unexpected place, and it was another reminder of what can happen when the church is really the Church.
I don’t know about you, but in the midst of dealing with lots of issues this spring, including some unhappy churches, it is always nice to receive good news from unexpected places.
Maybe that is why so many of the parables of Jesus invite us to look for the Kingdom of God in unexpected places – in a seed growing secretly in the ground, in the joy of a woman who finds her lost coin, in the radical hospitality of a Samaritan, and in the rugged sacrifice on a Cross.
May you find the Good News of the Kingdom of God this week in unexpected places.