Sunday, July 20, 2008

Let The Weeds Grow

Today Jana and I worshipped with the Second Baptist Church of Lubbock, the beloved fellowship I served from 1989-2001. I was the guest proclaimer, the third such privilege I have had in recent months.

My text was the gospel lection, Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds recorded in Matthew chapter 13. In this story, the rule of God is said to be like a carefully planted field in which wheat and weeds grow together and are harvested together, with the angels (not us) separating the wheat from the weeds at the end of the age (not now).

It was a timely text for my visit.

This splendid congregation took a chance on me when they called me as a still-unformed 31 year old minister. In short, they had more weed than wheat in their inexperienced pastor. But, they embodied the wisdom of today’s gospel lesson in letting this weed grow along with the wheat. They were longsuffering and gentle with me, allowing me to stumble and blunder my way into pastoral development. As a result of this “tender mercy,” we had a marvelous journey together that we will always celebrate before God.

My oft-repeated refrain to my seminary students is this: it is good churches that make good pastors, and not the other way around.

I think today’s sermon was something of a self-coaching talking point for the way I hope to conduct pastoral ministry from this point forward. I am recognizing more and more that our faith communities are fragile entities, easily beset by fears and insecurities, not given to instinctive capacities for change and adaptablity. I have made my share of leadership mistakes by advancing agenda for congregational change that were simply too pungent for immediate implementation.

After the service, those beautiful people of God at Second B waited patiently in a receiving line to offer their blessing to me, to remind me that long ago they saw wheat instead of weeds in me, and to admonish me, as I reenter the pastoral ministry I so dearly love, to go and engage in this imaginative act of seeing too.

10 comments:

Bill Ireland said...

Charlie,

Glad to get an update on your whereabouts. Blessings on you as you serve Broadway.

Anonymous said...

Bravo,Charlie!!!

Anonymous said...

I say this all the time Charlie, but I TRULY hope you will continue to write, you are so good at it.

I am so happy to hear about your new job in Ft. Worth too. Did you go to Southwestern as a student? I forget...

Anonymous said...

Who wouldn't have taken a chance on such a promising spirit, Charlie! It was we who were blessed.
I'm excited to hear of your appointment in Fort Worth and look forward to hearing that unmistakeable voice soon!
Stacy Starkes

Dr Randi Fass said...

Hope Sunday went well! You know there were plenty of prayers for you both! There was a brief article about you in yesterday's Express-News. A nice, view-free note but it was quite a surprise to open the paper and see your face!

Love to you both,
Randi and Martin

Anonymous said...

Beloved Pastor, you are wheat! Even we weeds know that.

Justin Williams said...

Jessica and I are glad to see you're back in Texas! If you ever make it down towards Galveston, we'd love to see you! You can reach us at williamsusaf@gmail.com if you're ever going to be in the area! We're going to First Baptist Church in Galveston now, which has been a real blessing. Everyone welcomed us in very quickly and we've been able to really get comfortable with our new Church family. Maybe we're just biased, but we've yet to find a preacher quite as inspiring as you!

Jack Shull said...

Charlie:

Glad to have you back in Texas.

MamaMia said...

So excited for you to be back in a church preaching Charlie, especially in Texas!!

We're having Cannon dedicated August 17th. I'm still bummed that you're not going to be the one to do it. But, we have the next best person...Debbie Potter!

Hey, now I can get my Charlie fix with your sermon "box." :)

Please say hello to Jana for us.

Monica

Charlie Johnson said...

Thank you, friends, for all your affirmation and love and prayer. What special gifts for Jana and me as we come back to our beloved Texas and commence our ministry with Broadway!

Love back to all of you,

CFJ