FOR PASTORS, ON MONDAY
Paul was asking Pastor Philemon to play out the story of the prodigal son on the platform of his church, with Philemon himself in the role of the father. The script said to throw his arms around the wastrel and to summon everyone to celebrate “this son of mine who was dead and is now alive.” God does that to pastors sometimes. Our stories won’t mirror this one exactly but they’re similar enough for us to nod in recognition.
There is work for us to do. Let’s call it tuckpointing. That’s when the crumbling mortar between bricks or stones is replaced with fresh mortar so that the wall remains strong. Over these past months “the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love” has loosened and cracked.
Dear pastor, in your eagerness to get church up and running again, or perhaps just to find relief in familiar routines, don’t hurry past bringing your flock to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Sing a little longer when you’re all back together, linger over Communion, preach on Christ’s death and resurrection from the high pedestal of that altar.
Finally, God’s people started returning. Not as many as had left, but then again, those who came back had changed for the better and others came for the first time. They came because God moved their hearts. It is like that again. As our people return take heart from Ezra’s account of the Jews return from exile.