The Sending Church

05/16/18

Outside the entrance to Genesis, a mother robin laid several blue eggs.  This week they have hatched into tiny birds.  Soon they will fly away, free to live as God’s creatures within nature. None of us expect them to stay in their nest forever.  They are meant to fly.

 

At the end of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus sends his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…and teaching them.”  In Acts 1, after Jesus ascends to heaven, the disciples receive a message, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?”  In other words, “Get busy doing what Jesus commanded you to do.”

 

The church is not meant to stay in its building.  Its purpose, as stated in the mission of The United Methodist Church, is “to make disciples for the transformation of the world.” Even though there are many things to do within the church, its primary function is to transform the world through the love and teachings of Jesus.

 

We are the church, called Genesis.  As much as we enjoy being with each other, worshipping and enjoying fellowship, the reason we exist is to be outside the church building, serving others.  The purpose of the church is to send itself into the world.

 

This Sunday, May 20, as we continue to baptize and receive new members into the church, we also are sending one of our own into the ministry to which God has called her.

 

It seems strange to send Joan VanDessel away from Genesis, but she has been called to be in full-time pastoral ministry and will begin June 1 doing just that at First United Methodist Church in downtown Grand Rapids. Since 2013, she has been part of Genesis, and since 2014 she has been our director of music, enriching our worship life in countless ways.  At the same time, Genesis has nurtured and encouraged her.

 

Sending her forth is bittersweet, but God’s will.  Most of us are not called into full-time pastoral ministry, but all of us are called to serve others where we are.  Her sending forth is a symbol that all of us are meant to go beyond the church building to be the church in the world.

 

Please join us at 9:30 a.m. Sunday for this celebration. As we bless and anoint Joan for her ministry, we accept for ourselves the task of transforming the world in Christ’s image.  Go, Joan!  Our prayer is that your faithfulness to your call will inspire us all.

 

Pastor John Ross

 

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