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Running in the Opposite Direction

Running in the Opposite Direction

Jesus deliberately heads across the sea towards this man, a sea that is stormy and terrifying.

by Stella Burkhalter on October 18, 2023

It never fails – as soon as the temperature drops low enough for us to step outside and the pumpkin spice lattes start flowing, the church calendar starts jumping with mission events, beginning with the pumpkin patch.

This year, we decided to spend all month focusing our preaching on missions and let our hearts open wide. We also wanted to make space to celebrate the amazing work the church did in the African Village of Matete. It is rare to find a church that will commit to a project with a 15-year timeline. Your faithfulness deserves to be celebrated!

A couple of weeks ago, Thomas shared the story of the time Jesus healed a man by putting mud in his eyes.  It illustrates the messiness of mission.  I believe that story is the second most disturbing mission story in the Bible.  I get to preach the scariest one – just in time for Halloween. It is the story of a man who lives in a graveyard. He is naked, bruised, and bloody, and possessed by demons. The description of the man always gives me chills.  Jesus deliberately heads across the sea towards this man, a sea that is stormy and terrifying. I am always struck by the fact that Jesus runs toward the man instead of running away.

As I think about what it means to serve in the mission of God, I am brought back to all those stories of Jesus running toward frightening people, tense situations, and complicated questions.  I know people like that, people who run toward danger.  I am not one of those people, which is why I know the Holy Spirit is at work when I’m drawn in that direction.

As I work on my sermon, I’m also working on our display for the last Sunday of the month when we’ll showcase our mission projects in the gathering area and at the Trunk or Treat event. It is inspiring to see all the places this church has gone – toward the least, the last, the lost, and sometimes toward the scary. May it continue to be so.

Pastor Stella

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