Here between Easter and Pentecost, our church finds itself in something of an interim time. It is, as poet and philosopher John O’Donohue reminds us, a time when the old is too old to die and the new is too young to yet be born. Here between Easter and Pentecost, we are simultaneously in the process of letting things go and dreaming new dreams.

Our churchwide organization is embarking on a process to prioritize its future direction. Led by our presiding bishop and supported by a whole cast of leaders — rostered and lay alike — we are in discernment. We can hardly keep up with the pace of change happening all around us, but we are on our way. This is how resurrection works.

Our synods are experimenting with new patterns of shared ministry. Part of what makes an experiment an experiment is that we don’t know what will happen. It might work out, it might not. Either way, we will learn from these. We often expect our leaders know what to do, but we live in a time where there are no blueprints, no maps. This is how resurrection works.

Our seminaries are making radical moves toward the future. It is clearer than ever that there is an entire generation of pastors who will retire in the coming decade. In their place may be a smaller number of rostered leaders, but you may be surprised by their creativity and  imagination. This is how resurrection works.

Some of our congregations are restarting and others are being planted in new communities. These are difficult developments that will reshape our church in ways we cannot yet imagine. These congregations take on new ways of being church, and they include people who will redefine what it means to be a Lutheran. This, too, is how resurrection works.

It’s almost as if God knew exactly what we would need for this moment, almost as if we really were always reforming: new visions, new partnerships, new institutions, new communities, the possibility of diversity we’ve never known. In all of it we remember the words of our morning prayer: O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. And here, between Easter and Pentecost, we are keenly aware of the resurrection and we wait for the Spirit to come and do a new thing among us.

An invitation

Explore the links included in this article. Where is God at work here? What is in need of confession? What is your prayer for our church in this interim time?

Timothy K. Snyder
Timothy K. Snyder is an instructor of practical theology at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.  

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