S (scripture): Joshua 3:17 While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.
O (observation): Moses’ time is over as leader of the Israelites, Joshua has assumed command at the Lord God’s behest. The people began the journey of wandering in the wilderness by crossing over the Red Sea on dry ground some 40 years earlier. Here we see the end of that season of wandering marked by another crossing on dry ground – this time across the River Jordan. This moment serves as something of a bookend to the crossing of the Red Sea.
A (application): Many times I can’t tell when one season has begun or ended until some time later when I can reflect in hindsight. But sometimes I can tell it’s happening in real time. Such a time was the celebration of our 25th anniversary as a church last March. It was a wonderful time of worship, fellowship, and renewing old friendships for many longer-term members of Rejoice.
Pastor Ken Haveland started the church over 25 years ago presiding at the Lord’s table set up in a local elementary school. During the 25th anniversary worship service he did so again, at my request. It was wonderful to see those who had been members of the church during Pastor Ken’s tenure come forward with open hands, receiving the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ through bread and wine. Several with tears in their eyes. I was deeply moved by this. Then, when Pastor Ken served me communion he laid hands on me and blessed me. He charged me with leading the church into the future, and not to try to remake the church in his image or as an attempt to recapture the past. He told me the Lord is with me and I need not fear. I am the right leader at the right time.
I cannot tell you how that blessed me. I’ll never forget it. And now, over a year later, the church is changing at a pretty rapid clip. God is creating something new before our very eyes. I know it’s hard on some people, particularly some who are long-time members. And on those days when the pushback is heaviest and doubt creeps in, I remember what Pastor Ken told me that day. And I know we as a church are on the right track, as hard as it is.
P (prayer): Lord, you are always doing a new thing – but it can be very hard on those of us living through it. Give us grace to acknowledge the end of a chapter in the life of the church and the beginning of another. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.