I love having a plan. So, many of us do. Now I am not one of those rigid planners that have to have everything set to go a certain way, and if it doesn’t, I become stressed. I’ve learned in my life that I need to be flexible, but a plan helps to guide me and helps me to be more flexible. The last few years, to be honest, I have not had as clear a plan. Much of that is because of circumstances, babies being born, young children, and things going on in the churches I have served that made planning difficult (that I will not get into in this article). It has been wonderful seeing and feeling God at work among us at Good Shepherd and Washington. I love the saying that I have heard recently about our little city, “Washington, IN, the Washington, D.C. that works.” Kind of a fun play on words since we are in Daviess County. In my twenty months of living here, I love this little part of the country and the many great people that I have gotten to know. I have also seen the difficulties and struggles we have as a community. In this, I know that we have community and city leaders that have a plan, but ultimately I know God has a plan.
In my planning, I understand the ultimately God is in control and he will determine whether or not the plan that has been put in my heart will come to fulfillment and I pray to see it through.
As I reflect, one part of my plan is the teaching and training up of the members of Good Shepherd to be emboldened in the faith. This is for all ages because I believe that God has placed each of us here for a reason and with a purpose. He has also called me here for a purpose as pastor and, if it is as I believe, that is to preach and to teach. God put upon the Reformer’s, Martin Luther and Phillip Melanchthon, hearts a clear calling for the Church and her leaders. A factor of that is a reclarification of our baptismal value, i.e. that through baptism we have all been set apart and called to be proclaimers of the Word. Then a further calling in which there would be those called within the Christian community to preach and to teach. In that calling, you have placed me. In our Augsburg Confession (1530), Article 7 states about the Church, “It is also taught among us that one holy Christian church will be and remain forever. This is the assembly of all believers among who the Gospel is preached in its purity and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel.” As pastor, I have been issued the call to preach the Gospel in it’s purity and ensure that the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel. In doing this, my prayer is that I am empowering all who worship with us to carry the Gospel into the community. I, also, am excited to be planning for the next year and looking ahead multiple years in which to teach those that are currently within our fold and those that are yet to come.
It is always nice to look ahead as we seek to fulfill that calling out into the world. It is a great gift in which we can seek out our Lord’s calling for us. How are we bringing Jesus into our community? How are we being faithful to our calling? One thing we can always find comfort in any of these questions is that our Lord is in control. If we find ourselves off course, we can ask for forgiveness, pray, and move forward. The past need not define the future. I, for one, know the weight of the past and the burden of errors made. For the most part, our errors of the past need not affect our future as we progress forward. Of course, some errors of the past are harder left behind if those errors broke civil laws and the consequences bear weight even as you move forward. I would argue that even though there may be things that you’ll have to work through that may make moving beyond more difficult one can still live without having those errors define the future. In fact, they can be a witness to others of how changed one is and can even be utilized as a tool to help others heading in similar paths to avoid. We all have our burdens from sin, some more visible, but as we live in the light of Christ, we move as a people changed, set apart. In this we proclaim Christ and Christ crucified.