My pastor and the rest of our mission team are still in Russia. This is the article I wrote this week for our weekly newsletter, The Clarion.
The offices have been pretty quiet since the Klintsy team left last week. After sending them off on Thursday morning, I came into my office and began my day. It was early and the peace of the morning was a great time to get some work caught up. By the time Molly and Jennifer arrived, I had already finished many of the things on my checklist. I felt good in my accomplishments for the day and it was still mid-morning! In the midst of all my work, though, it was strange to be without the rest of the staff.
I felt that most clearly on Friday. With Chris still at Crosspoint and Jamie and Steve in Klintsy, it fell to me to create the order of worship for Sunday. I sat at Jamie’s computer, surrounded by great writings, numerous copies of Bibles, hymnals, and my own ideas. I suddenly realized how inadequate I felt. For thousands of years great thinkers have been guiding us to consider the deep mysteries of the Divine. And here I sat, in the chair of one who strives always for excellence, planning a service for which I felt completely unprepared.
I have planned worship before; that was not the problem. I knew the text and the title of Chris’ sermon; it was very workable. But surrounded by the echoes of that “great cloud of witnesses,” I was deeply aware of Chris and Steve and Jamie’s absence. Suddenly I felt like a child attempting to walk around in my father’s oversized shoes. Each step was tenuous, timid, and yet delightful. As I watched the order of worship come together, I began to think about you on Sunday morning and how you would join me in the worship of our God.
It was only then that I knew why I was so hesitant to plan a worship service. It was not my inability; it was my desire to have the order restored in this place. It should not be me preparing worship, it should be Jamie. I should not be selecting hymns; Steve does that. We are a team and several of our members were absent.
As the days have gone on without the team, I have realized how quickly Immanuel has become family to me. I miss those who have gone away. In about five weeks time, I have discovered here a family and some of those are gone from us. Their absence makes us a different family of faith.
My prayers have changed since Friday. Now when I pray for the Klintsy team, I pray also for those of us who continue to minister here while they are away. Every day we touch the lives of people in ways just as significant as those in Klintsy. We serve food at Martha’s Vineyard. We carry one another’s trash to the curb. We visit those in the hospitals. We protect the interests of children through advocacy organizations. We minister in ways most of this family never sees.
It is a remarkable thing to offer time, resources, and faith to God to venture to Klintsy, and I admire those who have gone there. But I admire those of you who live faithfully here, as well. Faithful obedience to God calls us to the ends of the earth. And faithful obedience to God calls us across the street. Wherever we are called, there we go. As believers who have committed themselves to “following Jesus, wherever he leads,” the question becomes, “Where is Jesus leading you?” Opportunities to minister abound. Will you take the time this week to engage yourself where Jesus leads? May we be mindful of the Spirit’s leadership in each of our lives. Peace, Erin