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God's Work is Hard Work
June 5

On Sunday we will celebrate a day called Pentecost. Its roots go all the way back into the Old Testament, but for most churches they will focus on a story in the second chapter of the New Testament book called Acts, where the Holy Spirit shows up and instantaneously everyone is bilingual. (Take that Rosetta Stone!) It can be easy to think that once this happened everything got easier, like the Holy Spirit showed up just like the super-hero in a movie or like Popeye getting his spinach. And suddenly, with the snap of a finger, everything that they were supposed to do happened in an instant, and they were overwhelmingly successful. It’s easy to think that the Holy Spirit is the secret weapon they were waiting for, and as attractive as that sounds, it was probably the exact opposite of that. Their mission didn't become easier, rather it became more challenging. The Holy Spirit gave them this new ability to speak a foreign language so that they could go and do the really challenging work of telling people about God's love for them revealed in Jesus Christ - something that was illegal at the time. God's work was hard work for them.

Over the weekend I was in Chattanooga for a church conference (I can smell your jealousy from here), but it was a powerful weekend. Five-hundred people in one place who love their church and are excited about the work that their individual church and churches together as a synod are doing. At times it felt a little bit like a rally; talking about the new things that were happening and the good work that was being done, sermons and talks about the great story that we have to share, and all of the opportunities that are right in front of us. A little bit like that story in Acts 2, it was easy to think that we were going to leave the Chattanooga convention center, and all of the good work that we were going to do as pastors, deacons, bishops, and church members would happen with ease, almost without us even lifting a finger. But the truth is, ministry can be tough. As pastors, we are working with folks who are so busy that they have little to no time left for their church. There are churches that are struggling with their budgets. We help support people who are still recovering from the loss of a loved one or processing a challenging diagnosis. Churches struggle to find their voice or their mission in a changing neighborhood. Like the disciples in that room in Acts 2, the Spirit also sent us out, but that didn't mean it was going to be easy. The work is going to be tough but, every step of the way, God will be with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God's eternal presence in the world. 

It would be nice if life was always easy, but if that were the case, a few things would happen. First, we wouldn't get any stronger. Someone who goes to the gym or exercises works harder so that they can get stronger and grow their muscles. This doesn't happen when everything is easy. They need that challenge and resistance, and over time they get stronger. We also wouldn't learn to rely on God. We turn to God more often when life is challenging than when everything is easy and good. It's not as if God sends these challenges so that we rely on God (God isn't that insecure), but we live in an imperfect world. When things don't go well, we turn to God, knowing that God is always there, and God will continue to be there when we face this (holy) hard work. 

So, take heart that the same God and the same Spirit that showed up all those years ago is still showing up today, here, right now. God's work can be hard, but things that are important rarely happen without hard work. Know that when God send's you out to accomplish that challenging task, you are never alone. God is always with you, and, together, with God, we can climb any mountain. God's work is hard work, but it’s worth it, and through that hard work we will grow in faith. 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Chris 

Last Published: June 6, 2019 5:08 PM