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The In-Between Time

Why do you look for the living among the dead? (Luke 24:5)

What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (1 Corinthians 15:36)

Lent, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday are behind us now and, as I look ahead to Pentecost, I am reflecting on the in-between times in life. In between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension, he was no longer in a fully human body, yet he was physically here on earth. I don’t really know what that was like. It is a mysterious in-between state.

In our own way, we are living in an in-between state that is also a mystery. Our life as a

congregation, for both Woodmar and First, is not the same as it was, but is still not what it will be. Like all uncertain times, this is an uncomfortable situation: familiar patterns are disrupted, routines are changing, every other month we are in unfamiliar surroundings. It is both exciting and unsettling. It is also painful. As both churches contemplate the possibility that their beloved church building may not be the one where a new church would be located, there is anxiety and grief.

When a baby is soon to be born there is much hope and excitement, yet there is also great pain. I am confident that we are in the process of giving birth to something beautiful, wonderful, and powerful. A new church, birthed out of First and Woodmar, brings with it much hope, even though the process of giving birth to that new church will be painful and messy.

Jesus’ crucifixion was painful and messy. The disciples were befuddled as they hid in the Upper Room, not knowing what the future would bring. They did not know what to do until the Holy Spirit came upon them powerfully at Pentecost. Only then did they find clarity. Only then did they experience the birth of new life. Only then did they find assurance and power.

In our current uncertainty and discomfort, we may long for the certainty of the

congregational life we knew before. But the only thing certain about the past is that it is gone. We won’t find new life there, so why do we look for the living among the dead? Perhaps it is because that is the only place that we know to look.

Paul tells us, “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” Of course, he is speaking of people’s physical death, but this applies to the church as well. We can honor the past and learn from it, but we must also let it go. Jesus told Mary at the tomb on the first Easter, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended.” (John 20:17 NIV) If we want to rise as a new church, full of life, then perhaps we need to risk letting go so we can ascend to a new life as the church.

The in-between times are truly difficult. I believe that the church that is born from this in-between time will be one filled with power from God’s Spirit. The church that rises from the tomb of uncertainty will be filled with new life! The church that we become will be the best of Woodmar, the best of First, and—whatever we become--it will be worth the birth pains, it will be worth the uncertainty, and it will be a place of life.

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