I always enjoy this time of year. So many things happen, like Easter (of course), another change of seasons, “March Madness” (college basketball tournament), longer afternoons so more time outdoors, and so much more. These are just a few of the things I have grown accustomed to each happening year at this time and actually look forward to them, especially in the more dreary days of the winter. But this time of year also offers opportunity for new things and new experiences.
A few years ago (during this same time of year), I was at a meeting with several local pastors. As usual, we included in our discussions the things that were occurring in each of our churches and to my surprise, one of the local non-denominational pastors brought up Maundy Thursday as if he had discovered a new opportunity for Christians to gather and worship the Lord. He was a little caught off guard initially, when I told him that Methodists as well as several other mainline Protestant churches have celebrated Maundy Thursday for hundreds of years.
The pastor warmed up quickly, however as he picked my brain about details and customs associated with Maundy Thursday, and then preceded to question me about other practices of more traditional churches. In a way, I was inspired to hear that a church that presented itself publicly as a place where authentic and modern worship occurs seemed to be headed in a traditional direction, even if it was a very narrow path for them.
That memory always reminds me that the Holy Spirit can never be contained, controlled, or forced into doing what we want or even pray for the Spirit to do on our behalf. The Holy Spirit does inspire, equip, and empower us (and much more of course), but for God’s purposes and plans, which are not always the plans we have for ourselves. Just as I believe the Holy Spirit was moving in the non-denominational pastor and his church, it is the same Holy Spirit that was speaking to me to share and encourage the pastor so that more believers might come to understand one of the most important facets of a Maundy Thursday celebration – Jesus command that we are to love one another. He made a clear demonstration of the act of loving one another as he washed the disciples’ feet that evening (John 13: 1-17).
I am thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit in our church and for the ways we show love to others. Our ministries and the people involved in them are working to change people’s lives and bring hope and joy into their perspective where God can be claimed and celebrated. Our efforts with feeding the hungry each month, clothing the less fortunate, and welcoming the proverbial stranger into our midst are all an important parts of God’s kingdom work.
I look forward to the new things that this spring will bring about. Reminders of God at work creating new life and new growth for the young and old alike. I am thankful for this church and its desire to serve others as they need and as God desires instead of just doing things as we may have always done them.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He endures forever!
See you in worship,