Thoughts from Olivia
I walked around the headstones of a cemetery owned by our district this month. It was connected to the once thriving Church of the Nazarene in Altona. When I parked alongside the old church building and parsonage the current owners were in the yard working. They warmly greeted me and took me inside the sanctuary. The buildings have changed hands a number of times since the church closed, and before the current owners purchased it the story is grim. Someone had converted the sanctuary into a two story space with little rooms in both stories. Who knows all of what was happening in that former house of worship. What we do know is that many people were arrested for selling and using drugs in the space that once held weddings and funerals, worship services and ministries. The current owners are cleaning it up bit by bit to sell again. I asked them if they were people of faith and one of them who grew up in a Baptist pastor's house said, “Oh no, not anymore.”
For some reason, all of this--the cemetery, the beautiful and sordid past of the church building, and the sorrowful testimony of the current owners--has been traveling with me in my heart as I criss-cross our district. I’m asking myself questions about life and death, resurrection and restoration, hope and despair. It was all mixed together in Altona and I believe it is all mixed together wherever we find ourselves.
Ministry is challenging in this time we are living in, but don’t forget that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Health difficulties, questions about ends meeting, and the sorrow of this world can be met with the reminder that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. When joy and hope and opportunities spring forth we celebrate that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. In the mixed realities of our lives and world let us be resurrection people together.
Jesus stood in a cemetery at the grave of a dear friend named Lazarus. It was there that He wept. With all the knowledge Jesus had I imagine He too held in His heart a mixture of emotions. Suffering, sickness, and sorrow mixed together with grace, mercy, and hope are swirled together in many of the moments of our lives. Today, hear the words our Savior spoke, “I am the resurrection and the life…” John 11:25.