The Joy of Perseverance

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. – Hebrews 12.1-2

I recently experienced one of the highlights of my ministry career.  It happened in a courtroom here in Duluth on May 16th.  I’ve been in courtrooms with congregation members before and typically it isn’t a good thing.  This time was very different.  I witnessed the adoption ceremony for two little girls.  There were tears all around, including the judge who had worked with the case since the very beginning.  The kicker was watching them each hold up signs which said, “After 1096 days in Foster Care I got adapted today!” and “After 797 days in Foster Care I got adapted today!”  What a joyful day.  To top it all off, First Presbyterian Church had the honor of hosting the Adoption Party.  We had dozens of kids running wild in the gym.  There were countless pieces of cake dropped on the Highland Room floor.  It was awesome!

Now this joyful day is the culmination of deep perseverance by our former members the Miles family.  There were many hard days between when they welcomed these two little girls into their home and this day of joy.  That said, this family ran with perseverance the race that was marked out for them.  They had to fix their eyes on Jesus who allowed them the strength to do it.  They have forever transformed these two little girls lives.  This is what happens when we fix our eyes on Christ. 

Transformation is happening within our congregation as well.  My sister worshiped with us for Christmas, was out of the country for three months, then returned on Good Friday.  She worshiped with us on Easter and her comment was, ““Wow.  Things seem really upbeat and I see far more smiles than I did at Christmas.”  We are making progress.  Things are continuing to improve.  Our Session meetings have had a markedly different feel.  Several of our recent meetings have ended right on schedule.  (We have had a few meetings that I’ve considered purchasing some cots for!)  The meetings which have run longer are because we are making important, faithful decisions about our congregation.  We are growing in love and trust for one another, listening carefully and thoughtfully even when disagreements arise.

There is a definite growing momentum in our midst.  The Spirit is freely flowing through, with and in us.  I continue to get more excited about the ministry we are doing and the growing potential for our ability to be a transformational force in the city of Duluth.  We are fortunate that Christ has decided to impact Duluth through us.  There are many good Churches in Duluth and the fact that Christ wants to put us to work is not a given.  To do this work we will need to muster perseverance.  Just as any foster family will tell you there are difficult days and nights on the way to transformation, so too will our congregation continue to face challenges and struggles.  That said, the power of healthy Christian community is that, shoulder to shoulder, these challenges and struggles can actually be fun.  There is joy in working together, running the race that Christ has marked out for us.  Let’s continue to keep the good momentum going while fixing our eyes on Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith!

Joyfully In Christ’s Service,

Pastor Jeremiah