Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Every bit like local church

Continuing through numbers and realising how moany the Israelites are and how much patience and grace Aaron and Moses excercise. In fact, reading through chapters 11-18 felt like reading an account of local church ministry with its power battles, embattled, discouraged leaders, grumbling followers. Was struck by how similar the two were, God's people in OT and people that I pastor!

Chapter 11- 'I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets' - in other words, if only others would share the burden, if only others would share responsibility with me for hearing and delivering the words of the Lord, if only there were more people willing to help out with leading - any pastors ever felt anything similar?

Chapter 12 - opposition from Moses closest allies - Miriam & Aaron challenge his leadership and Miriam ends up regretting it, after coming sound very suddenly with a skin disease. how many pastors have struggled with even the closest and dearest losing faith in their ability to do what God wants them to do?

Chapter 13 - one that has always troubled me. I am not a natural optimist - i am hopeful and often full of faith but am keen to be real about challenges - after all, if we're up front about the real situation, God's help is often even more miraculous - and so feel a sense of connection with the spies that return and tell it as it is. Caleb though is far more positive - and i guess the issue here is not one of optimism/pessimism, but one of seeing the possibilities for God's action and being open to them.

As someone trying to sensitively and lovingly lead a church through transition for mission/renewal at the moment, we are about to embark on what seems for us quite a risk of establishing two morning congregations. Although i feel relatively convinced of God's hand on it, many are fearful and worried about the outcome. I guess in this particulalr situation, i feel something like Caleb (and Moses with grumbling congregants, but that's another issue) feeling as though able to see all the possibilities of God's action through taking a risk, where as others see the potential pitfalls and are unable to move past those.

Chapter 14 - More rebellion and dissent - yet Moses instead of having a huge sulk and going off to moan about the people that are failing to respect his leadership, knowing God's track record on dissent, immediately intercedes for them. A great lesson again for church leaders - pray for the trouble-makers - genuinely pray for God's hand to move in their life and bless them with good things... Love even when it hurts.

Chapter 15 - random insert it appears about offerings and the death of one who breaks the sabbath

Chapter 16 - more dissenters - this time swallowed up by the ground

Chapter 17 - Aaron's staff grows buds and then almonds as a sign of God's anointing for him as priest

Chapter 18 - concludes this little exploration of church leadership when God affirms to Aaron that his priesthood is a gift. In all the hassle and things that cause weariness of body and spirit, ministry is such a great gift. To be able to work for the Lord, full time, seeking His mercy and grace amongst a broken world, is a great privilege, always good to be reminded of that.

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