About 20 years ago, a group of leaders from various environmental non-profits working in the region around Yellowstone National Park began hatching a plan to counter the commonly held belief that you’re either pro-business or pro-environment but you can’t be both. They reached out to a variety of business leaders, from multiple industries, wondering if the existing business voices weighing in on environmental matters truly represented their views. They ultimately recruited a collection of business owners like me who recognized that the health of our enterprises was intimately tied to the health of the ecosystem where we worked, played, and lived.
As this new organization took shape, the initial vision of the group of NGO leaders began to shift as it became influenced more and more by the businesswomen and men who came to be involved. In those early years, as direction was set and programs were created, there was a tension between the two camps of leaders. Understandably, it was hard for the NGO folks to let go of their assumptions about how such a group should be organized and to fully embrace the entrepreneurial instincts of the business-minded crowd. The organization ultimately became something quite different from what the NGO founders had envisioned but the goal of changing the business vs. environment dialogue had been achieved.
As we look forward to Sunday, our continuing biblical narrative shifts once again. We leave Luke’s 1st book and pick up its companion with the book of Acts. While God’s activity experienced in and through the person of Jesus was central to the readings we’ve had since before Christmas, now God’s work is mediated through the Spirit as the world adjusts to post-Easter realities. Empowered by the breath of the Spirit, the movement that Jesus began with his disciples, now apostles, spreads. And this movement needs more and more leadership. But the leaders God lifts up are just not like the leaders who came before. And here begins an important trajectory in the history of the Christian church: those who come later will change how things were done before.
As we think about our own small expression of the church at work in this corner of Roseville, we celebrate the history that has enabled it to be a tangible presence of God for this community for the past 64 years. We give thanks for the leaders whose faithful service carried the breath of the Spirit as they witnessed to the love of God, cared for one another and for their neighbors, both locally and around the globe. We give thanks for the investments of time, energy and resources that have made it possible for us to be living more fully into God’s promised future.
We also need to give thanks for all the ways God’s Spirit has changed this church over this same period of time. This church has thrived because it has continually been made new by those who came along. I am convinced that our ability to continue thriving in the future will be directly linked to our intentionality about welcoming others, especially those with a different voice to offer, into this mission and shared ministry. I am also convinced that whoever they are or will be are exactly who God expects will lead us. And I will ask that God help them to lead this church through the changes to come just as faithfully as all who have done so before.
May God’s peace come to you this day. -Pastor Peter
Let us pray:
Good and Gracious God, the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt, may we, who have not seen, have faith in you and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.