Saturday, June 21, 2008

Eastern District Synod Vesper Worship

This devotional material was prepared for the 2008 Synod of the Moravian Church--Eastern District.

Scriptural Inspiration

Matthew 11:28-29 "COME"

[Jesus said,] "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matthew 28:16-20 "GO"

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Devotion Notion

Not long ago, I visited a major amusement park with my family. While they waited in line to board the kind of spine-tingling roller coaster that would surely cause me to search out a long-term relationship with a chiropractor, I occupied myself by embarking on a milder journey. I hopped on the charming passenger train that circumnavigates the park and makes regularly scheduled stops in various “lands.”

So many of my fellow passengers looked weary: Moms toting squirmy, sticky toddlers; dads wrestling with collapsible strollers; seniors schlepping the accumulated stuffed animal winnings of their teenage grandchildren’s arcade escapades; employees dragging toward the parking lot at the end of their shifts under the Southern sun. Most seemed to be using the train as a place to seek respite—a sort of sanctuary from heat and exertion and the kind of overstimulation caused by the combination of punched up colors, spinning attractions and cotton candy.

Each time the train pulled into a station, riders had the option of disembarking or staying on board. It was surprising to me how many people were content to remain in their seats, looping around the park’s perimeter over and over again. But at one stop I witnessed a heartening scene. A cluster of pre-teens (I suspect cousins) stood behind the safety barrier and waved vigorously to an older couple sitting a few rows ahead of me. “Come on!” they yelled encouragingly. “It’s no fun if you stay on the train all day!”

With that invitation, the grandparents rejoined the young people on the adventure. “Follow me,” one of the ‘tweens said. “There’s something here for everyone to do.”

I so enjoyed watching that scenario play out because it reminded me of what the Church is meant to be, and of what the Church’s people are meant to be about.

Like the train, the Church is where we often come to sit a spell and recuperate. It’s where we come to take a break from the kind of overstimulation caused by living life. It’s where we set aside everything that weighs us down, at least for a little while, and regain strength. It’s one place—though not the only place—where we encounter Jesus who promises to help us out, especially when we’re worn out.

But also like the train, the Church is not a place where we’re meant to stay all day. Once we’ve been renewed, it’s time to GO! It’s time to spill back out of the church doors and DO SOMETHING! It’s time to take that newly reclaimed energy--that freshly found inspiration—and USE IT! It’s time to discover who else out there in the world needs what Jesus has and SHARE IT!

Your preferred method of going into the world to make disciples may be as adventurous as a turn on a steel coaster with a 97 degree plunge, or closer to the intensity of a merry-go-round ride, but as the young man at the train station said, “There truly is something here for everyone to do.”

In Christ’s name, go and come. In Christ’s name, come and go.

Litany of Coming and Going

Dearest Jesus, you have reached out your hand, motioned with your fingers curling inward, and coaxed us to come to you.

You have drawn us close by your promise to gently unburden us when we are overwhelmed.

You have given us permission to set aside stoicism and self-sufficiency. You have offered to partner with us and to shoulder the bulk of the load.

You have saved us! You have rescued us from ourselves by pulling us out of our isolation. You have restored us with your gentle love. We are grateful.

And Dearest Jesus, you have reached out your hand, pointed with your finger toward the distance, and commissioned us to go.

You have prepared us to know what is expected of us through crazy parables offered in teachable moments. You have shown us by stellar example and hands-on training how to emulate you.

You have won us over by loving us with such a pure love that we are we are compelled to pass it along.

You have convinced us to step beyond the safety and comfort of our place at your side, and to extend the same benefits of your compassion to others.

We come in. We go out.

We go out. We come in.

We receive. We give.

We give. We receive.

We rejuvenate. We reciprocate.

We reciprocate. We rejuvenate.

We collect love. We reflect love.

We reflect love. We collect love.

We are blessed. We become a blessing.

We become a blessing. We are blessed.

Amen. We depart.

We depart. Amen.

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