Finding Christ on the Go
As a United Methodist Pastor, I understand that because of our itinerant system, it’s possible to be moved any year. During appointment season, usually April and May, most pastors slide to the edge of their seat every time the phone rings. The joke among clergy is that if you get a call from the District Superintendent joyfully proclaiming, “I have a wonderful opportunity for you,” you know that you’re moving and sometimes a little farther away from civilization. Change of any kind is hard, but moving, uprooting everything and starting over can be the hardest kind of change. In fact, moving is ranked number three in the top ten most stressful life events. But for the Methodist preacher, going where we are sent is part of our calling. We believe that God is in the process, that God works through the Bishop, the District Superintendent and the Cabinet to send us where we need to go.
My husband, also a Methodist preacher, was given the opportunity of a mid-year move, which took effect January 1, 2020. Upon receiving the news, many thoughts flooded my mind, fear and anxiety prepared for takeoff! My first thoughts were about moving my four children to a different school in the middle of the year. I worried about them making new friends, adapting academically, and if I’m being honest, culling through all of the toys and clothes four little people had managed to acquire. Although I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them, there is often a fear in the back of my mind that asks, “What if they don’t like me?” Then I worried about our large family plus all of our stuff fitting in the new parsonage. My thoughts finally landed with this question, “How close is the nearest Wal-Mart,” which in the grand scheme of things, now seems a little silly.
Change is hard and moving, going where you’re sent can be downright scary! However, as preachers, we continue to go where we are sent because we believe that Christ goes before us to prepare the way and that he actually meets us there. As it happens in a move, we usually find Christ after the dust settles and our nerves even out. We come to love the people we have been sent to serve, we adjust to the new parsonage, and we find peace in the longer drive. Christ meets us exactly where he sends us.
On that fateful Easter morning, with dread and sadness, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. They expected to find the body of Jesus and they planned to mourn, but that is not what happened! Instead, they witnessed an earthquake and an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, rolling away the stone. They watched as the burly soldiers froze in shock at the sight of this angel and they heard a message designed specifically for them. “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’”
On that first Easter morning, both Mary and the other Mary set out on their mission to see Jesus, even if it was just his body, only to be told by an angel to look elsewhere for the risen Christ. It wasn’t until they were well on their way when they encountered Jesus. And yet he doesn’t let them stay long before sending them off again with instructions to go and tell the other disciples to go look for him in Galilee. The two women and the other disciples were given instructions to go and to find Jesus in another place. Whether clergy or a laity, sometimes God asks us to move on. And like all humans on the planet, we would like to stay right where we are, to avoid the stress of change or moving, but that is not what Easter is about. Easter is about change, it is about going where you are sent, it’s about facing your fears. Easter is about trusting that God is sending you right where God wants you to be. Easter is about finding Christ on the go.
Rev. Nicole Boddie is a part time local pastor at Sabine Pass United Methodist Church and St. John’s United Methodist Church, Port Arthur outside of Beaumont, Texas. If you are ever in the area, her congregations would love to have you for worship.
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