Deadlines

I’m not sure I have ever written anything or given a sermon that I was perfectly pleased with. Always it feels like I could have done a little better job but the deadline came and it was time to go with what I had. Every week there are a few of those deadlines. The newsletter has to go to press, the classes meet as scheduled, the times for the weekday Eucharists arrive, Sunday morning just keeps on presenting itself. Time for preparation is set aside but, eventually, something has to be delivered. How could it be good enough, after all? The message is endless in possibility and the audience is so diverse. And here I am, limited by  my own insights and abilities.

It used to be that I would get panicky at deadline time.  I wanted so badly to get it right, to do well, to exceed expectations and impress. “Ah,” as an old mentor told me once, “what God will use to get a decent sermon out of us.” Over the years those deadlines have done something to me. While I used to fear whatever I was preparing wouldn’t be good enough, now I’m more accustomed to knowing that it never is perfect but it just can’t be. I’ll do the best I can and somehow that will turn out okay. Maybe I’ve figured out I’m not a home run hitter and have become content with singles and doubles. Or maybe I’ve learned to tune out the crowd and focus more on the ball coming at me. There is some relief in coming to know I don’t have to win the whole game with this swing of the bat. I just need to get on base and then wait for something good to happen. (You can tell I’m getting excited about baseball season starting!)

We all have deadlines to meet. There are the business deals to prepare for, the meetings with clients, the dinner parties, the yard work and housecleaning, the holidays, the exams and tests, the children to raise, the conversations with spouses or friends, the shopping, the health issues to address. Everyday something is required of us and we are called to prepare and then deliver. It’s pretty steady, this earthly existence, and those deadlines keep on coming.

Life can seem relentless. It just won’t let up. After all we’ve had to do, there always seems to be more that is required. The deadlines remind us we’re not big enough to do it all as well as it could be done or should be done. We can grow weary and resentful as we approach the deadlines as enemies to conquer or crises that may destroy us. Such power we give to things beyond us.

Life actually is pretty gentle. Sure it keeps on coming at us, but more in a gracious flow of new chances than a barrage of events designed to bring us down. Looking back we can see that things have generally turned out better than the sum of our efforts. We’ve all struck out numerous times. But the pitches keep on coming. Life isn’t designed to entrap us and prove our unworthiness. Life is designed to shape us into thankful, appreciative, trusting participants in something bigger than ourselves. Our value isn’t determined by how we do this one thing. Our value is given to us by a gracious and loving savior who is making all things well.

Maybe you’re like me and get to pressing in life and forget that this is supposed to be fun. This isn’t a grim challenge to see who can make the cut. Life, and the spiritual journey, is lighter than we usually make it. Today’s deadline is here. Go with what you’ve got. Begin now to prepare for the next deadline to come. It’s a joyous rhythm: preparation; action; reflection; growing. It’s all designed to bring us closer to the kingdom of God.

 

Yours faithfully,

Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.

 

EFM Classes Forming

Education for Ministry classes are now being formed for the fall. EFM is a theological study course offered by extension through the University of the South – Sewanee and is designed for lay people. It is a series of 4 one year courses which involves individual study and group reflection. The purpose is to deepen in knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith and to be further formed for ministry in the world. St. John’s is fortunate to have 4 EFM classes: Thursday night 6:30-8:30; Sunday nights 5:30-7:30; Wednesday morning 9:30-12:00; and an on-line course is offered Fridays 9:00-10:30. If you are interested in any of these classes, please contact our EFM coordinator George West (285-4317 or georgewestop@bellsouth.net) or Robert Wisnewski (robert@stjohnsmontgomery.org)  or one of the other mentors (Dudley Perry, Maria Pacheco-West, and Karen Pirnie).

 

Confirmation – May 12

Bishop Santosh Marray will be here to celebrate, preach, and confirm on May 12. If you are an adult or older youth and wish to be confirmed at that time, please contact Robert Wisnewski (robert@stjohnsmontgomery.org) so that we might make arrangements.

 

Palm Cross Folding – Sunday, March 17, at noon

Come join us for about 30 minutes on Sunday after church and fold palm crosses for Palm Sunday which is the next week. The more the merrier. It’s even better because we’ll serve pizza for lunch!

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St. John's Episcopal Church - 113 Madison Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104 (334) 262-1937 [Map and Directions]

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