Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain....
So goes the familiar ditty sung by children (or at least it was sung in my childhood). Beyond the monotony of the lyrics is a simple story. There was a bear. There was a mountain. And the bear climbed it. A journey. A struggle. A triumph. Simple really, except that anyone who was ever on a journey and faced a struggle (and who isn't and hasn't) knows that these things are rarely without incident. Journeys take energy and effort. Journeys can also be incredible learning experiences. If we are wise to open our eyes, minds, and hearts along the way we may discover important truths about ourselves, others, and even God.
2011 was an amazing year for ministry at St. James. As we began the annual trip around the sun, there was a deep concern about whether we would be able to continue our mission in the same way. A formidable mountain stood in front of us. Mount Mission Deficit stood at over $90,000 feet after we had trimmed expenses to bare bones. Faced with the daunting summit we did what good Christians do... we prayed and trusted in God's Spirit to guide our steps. We started up the path. And climbed up and down and up and down and.... you get the idea. Together we worked on making the most out of the resources with which we were entrusted. Together we tacked a bridge appeal on our mortgage and continued to make payments. Together we journeyed and was reminded along the way of God's presence. Together we were in mission praising God and serving others. At year's end we almost made the summit... just $3775 dollars short. A feat that we can celebrate and say, "thank you". Thank you to all who joined in the effort. Thank you God for your strength and faith and for the lessons along the way.
As we journey through the first month of 2012, I am reminded of the bear and the mountain and the next verse.... what do you think he saw? He saw another mountain! The journey continued for the bear! More climbing ahead!
And so it goes with St. James. We are at the base of another summit and the mountain that lies ahead is once again large. In the remaining weeks before the Annual Meeting you will learn of its size and of the path that has been scouted out. You will be invited to personally consider how you can help out by growing in your response. Make no mistake, everyone's help is going to be needed if we are going to sustain our ministry.
Talking about the need to climb this mountain may not be popular - but to remain silent lacks honesty. We are on this journey together - placed here by the Spirit. We are blessed to be a part of this community where God's love is proclaimed, worshiped, taught, and shared. We all have a responsibility, as part of this church, to be about the work of helping the bear over the mountain.
Let us do as good Christians do... pray and trust in God's Spirit to guide our steps as we respond.
The Rev. Walt Lichtenberger, S.T.M.
St. James Lutheran - Burnsville, MN
cell phone: (952) 836-8588
emergency pastoral care hotline: (651) 354-1883