Be still and know…

Most of you will know that I have a hard time being still. I usually have about 10 too many irons in the fire and am often grasping a plate at the very last minute to keep it spinning and not crashing into the ground. While all this activity usually keeps me motivated, focused and moving, there are times where it backfires. The past few days have been one of those times. Sometimes the responsibilities are just too much, deadlines are too ominous, and my brain gets too fragmented.

Add on top of that fragmentation a newsletter article and well… my brain seems to have simply shut off. My brain won’t settle on a topic to ponder. Reviewing old newsletter articles in the hopes that something might cause my ears to perk up has been fruitless. I keep praying that God will give me something to say, but the only response I get is silence.

I imagine you have times like this, too. Times where there is so much going on that you can’t focus. Or maybe the opposite, time just seems to drag on and on. In either case, what are we to do? I invite you to join me in going to the words of scripture, to Psalm 46. Hear what the Psalmist has to say, then be still and know that God is…

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 46 (NRSV)

Harvest Time

Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues,
and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them,
because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Matthew 9:35-38 (NRSV)

The weather has become markedly cooler and it is starting to feel like fall. With autumn’s arrival I start thinking about harvest time, and when I think of harvest, I think of this story. There is a plentiful harvest, but few workers. I am saddened and concerned about the lack of laborers for the harvest. Yet, at the same time, I am prayerful and confident that God will provide the harvest hands needed.

I also find it both comforting and disconcerting that Jesus saw the same problems we face today, some 2000 years ago. It is comforting because we can know that this is nothing new. And we have a definite plan of action, presented by Jesus himself, to follow. Pray.

On the other hand, it makes me uncomfortable to see how precious little progress we have made in the past two millennium. There is still an abundant harvest, and it seems there are still too few workers to bring it in from the fields. So where does that leave us? Do we simply give up because of the apparent lack of progress? Should we just work harder, not worrying about getting more workers, and instead just doing the job ourselves?

No, and No. There is a harvest to be brought in. Simply letting it rot in the fields is not an option, especially if we are truly a church where the lost are sought after, the unlovable are loved, and the untouchable cradled in God’s loving arms. And trying to bring in the harvest without help is not an option, either. Let alone the fact that we would burn ourselves out, going it alone deprives others of the blessing of participating in God’s kingdom work and doesn’t build a community of radical welcome where all are invited to gather around God’s table.

We are called to do exactly what Jesus instructed the disciples, to pray for harvest workers. However, this is not a passive prayer. Rather it is prayer imbued with a passion for God’s will and actively seeking our role in co-creating God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. We are called to both run the race with endurance and to pray without ceasing.

You might ask, “What does that look like in practical terms?” Maybe it means that you commit to pray for people to be moved to service in the church, either on the church board, or on some of the various ministry teams in the church. Maybe you pray for new people to come to the community of faith, bringing their talents, passions, gifts, brokenness and fears. It might mean that you respond to God’s voice that has been calling you to take on a new role that fits with your passions and partner with others with those same passions to form a new ministry…

Whatever your response, I pray that you will share it with us. So we can support you, both with our prayers, and with our hands, feet and hearts. It is harvest time. It is time to get into the fields and bring in the harvest, and it is time to be actively praying for help. The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few… Thanks be to God for this opportunity for ministry!