Mount Calvary Family,
A brother in ministry commented not long ago, “This pandemic is forcing us to consider and make changes we should already have made.” I rather look at it as “Coming kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.” It is something very difficult for some of us, especially those of us who grew up watching tv and movies starring heroes of “The Old West” . . . think 19th Century (that’s the 1800’s for those of us chronologically challenged). Wouldn’t it be nice to return to “the Good Old Days”? . . . Maybe, if you were among those who had it “good” in those days? Not everyone did. Maybe you don’t want to go back quite so far, perhaps the early 20th Century is more to your liking? Say the second decade of that century? You know, the time when the Spanish Influenza we have heard so much about was raging while Europe was caught up in the strife of World War I and the cream of our nation’s crop of young men were sent over to join in the battle for “freedom.” … Still too far back? … I remember a presidential candidate a few elections back who wanted to take our nation back to the “America of the 1950’s.” Try selling that to an African American who actually experienced that era of our history!
Israel got caught up in that kind of reminiscing in its period of wandering in the wilderness. They found themselves longing for “The Good Old Days” in Egypt where everyone had plenty to eat and they could relax every evening around the fire in their cozy family cottages. What an endearing picture! I can understand why they would desire a return to such a life … if it were real. Their longings for easier times clouded the reality. The reality I remember from Scripture is that they were suffering under the brutality of demanding slave drivers under heartless Egyptian masters when God heard their cries for deliverance.
For those of us longing to “get back to normal”, it is important to remember that our “normal” wasn’t perfect either. “Normal” was not necessarily good for all of us – in fact, it was probably “bad” at one time or another for each of us. It is good to remember that “good” only really exists in this world as a temporary escape from the evils of the world. True “Good” only exists in the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father where evil is left in the “outer darkness” while the faithful children of God, cleansed from the “darkness” of our lives by God’s forgiving grace in Christ Jesus, live forever in the “light” of God’s presence!
Until we come into that Kingdom we are left to work in the “darkness” of our present reality. Here we are called to shine the “Light” of God’s love and His gift of Life in Jesus into the lives of everyone around us. That is the role of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church. This ministry has shined the “Light” of God’s love in Christ Jesus into thousands through almost a century of existence. We have been blessed to be among those touched by God’s love through this ministry. As we look toward the Centennial Anniversary of Mount Calvary, we remember those who have gone before us and the sacrifices they made to share the gifts of God’s grace with us. As we do, it is incumbent on us to consider well how we will one day be remembered by those who follow us. Even though our names may be forgotten, it is my hope that our efforts to serve our community and share the hope of the Gospel that is ours in Christ Jesus will long be remembered. I pray it continues to touch the lives of our community members for many decades (perhaps centuries?) to come. That is why, as we anticipate our Anniversary Celebrations, with first events scheduled for just a year from now, we focus not just on the past but also on the future and what we will do with the heritage handed down to us in this ministry we share.
That is the focus of discussions going on even now between our congregational leaders and the Michigan District. The question before us is whether we will join with the work the District is doing at Charity Lutheran down the street and enter into a shared ministry agreement between the Michigan District, Charity Lutheran, and Mount Calvary? Should we determine that this is the best way forward as Mount Calvary moves into its second century of ministry on Detroit’s east side, it will mean changes for us. As we contemplate that reality, it is good to remember that whatever way we move forward in ministry, it will mean change. Joining in this collaboration with the District would mean that I would soon be moving on to pursue other directions in ministry. If you find that distressing, it is important to note that I will likely be here for only 2 to 3 more years at most. The question is not whether you desire that I remain, but what is the best way forward for Mount Calvary as a mission station for the message of the Gospel from our Lutheran perspective for many years to come? Whether we join in this venture or not, that is the important ministry question before us. As we look to the future, whether under my pastoral care and leadership or that of another, where is God taking us?
I have long believed that planning for the future allows us to review what is truly most important to us -- those things that make up our identity as Christians of a Lutheran heritage – in order to hold onto them. As our world changes, the way we do ministry changes as we have amply seen in this time of COVID 19. None-the-less God, HIS Word and its teachings, and HIS love for us and for those around us never change! These are the things we must consider as of most importance as we look and plan for Mount Calvary’s future. “Buckle-up your seat belt and settle in!” I think we are in for an exciting ride as we “climb aboard” to see where God is taking us and how He will get us there! I only ask two things of you as we consider the way forward. First, keep an open mind and secondly keep your hands folded in prayer. Whatever way we pursue, God already has a plan for us and for this ministry He has entrusted to us!
God’s peace and blessings to all,
Pastor John Carrier
About The Author
Since 2015, Pastor John Carrier has been Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church's pastor in Detroit, Michigan. He is also the Director for Camp Restore Detroit. Mt. Calvary has a bi-monthly newsletter, which opens with words from Pastor Carrier, called "From The Pastor's Desk..."