Pulse – October 2019 – Moving Boldly Ahead

On October 5, I plan to run the Leavenworth Oktoberfest Half Marathon. This will be my second 13.1 mile race of the year, a goal I set back in January to complete two half marathons in 2019. 

In 2010, I ran the Leavenworth Oktoberfest Marathon. It is the only marathon I have ever run and immediately following the race, I took a fairly significant break from running. (Read: I crashed and couldn’t get myself back out on the road after such a large race — 26.2 miles). However, I set a goal this year to get back in shape and start running again. I knew that it would take a bold move of my spirit, my heart and body needing to reclaim what had been lost in weakened muscles, extra weight, and the fear of consistent distance training. 

The excuses for not running are so easy to listen to: Life is so very busy and there’s no time to lace up my shoes and get back out on the trails. Or the aches and pains of my mid-thirties (Read: late-thirties) made the first long runs unbearable, the recovery more difficult. Is it worth it?

I’ve been challenged this year to take bold steps into places of physical exercise and practice that I have never ventured to before. I’ve had to find parts of myself that I thought were lost, a capacity to handle the full life of a pastor, partner, and father of a 5-year-old and not let that serve as an excuse, but rather as a catalyst for movement and bold reclamation of myself, my health, my spirit.

At this juncture in our life together at St. James, we are being called to a similar bold movement. This month, we are in the midst of our Annual Stewardship Campaign and celebrating a year of strong growth among the programs and participants in our congregation’s life. In order to accommodate this growth, we have to be bold and increase our financial giving to meet the needs of our present and future community here. Like training for a race, it is going to require some sacrifice from us, digging in deeper to what we know to be the vital mission we are called to as a community. 

In Luke 17, Jesus’ disciples cry out that their Lord would “Increase our faith!” Jesus responds by likening their faith to a tiny mustard seed, which is sufficient enough to uproot its much larger fellow tree, the mulberry. Hear this: though our faith is small, it can do immense things. The call to mustard seed faith, the call to lace up our shoes, the call to expand our work as a church — it is possible with the faith of Christ in our midst. 

Setting out to run 13 miles for the first time in a long time seems impossible. But with the right training, deliberate pacing, slow and steady obedience to the goal, it becomes not only possible, but dare I say: enjoyable! I love running and my body feels better, my spirits uplifted, my mind renewed.

Likewise, increasing what we do here as a church, with the growth of our congregation, expanding missions endeavors, broadening programs to form and nurture our faith — it can seem like a lot to try to tackle. But if we band together, if we each take the bold step forward to do our mustard seed-sized part — we can make immense things happen. For the truth is that we do not do this ourselves, but it is Christ who empowers us. 

My prayer is that you will be bold this year as you respond in faith to increasing your contribution here at St. James. And…perhaps…you’ll take other bold moves in your life to increase your faith, take a journey, step into what you once thought impossible, and discover the joy of all that God provides in the process. 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Seth

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