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A Future Not Our Own

In exactly one month, we will be celebrating Rally Day and the start of Sunday School—Bryn Mawr Presbyterian’s program year will be off and running. As I look around my office, I see large sheets of paper covered in details about fall planning. There are lists of potential and confirmed Sunday school teachers, calendar dates and planning timelines. There’s even a sheet with goals for each of our age groups. Over the summer, they have been filled with Post-it notes and penciled ideas. One sheet even had to be replaced because it simply couldn’t hold all the information!

As each day passes, I watch with anticipation as the year begins to take on a more concrete form. In the middle of all that planning, it can be easy to miss the big picture. There is a certain degree of idolatry in crafting a program year. We lay perfect plans for perfect programs, yet sometimes we lose perspective while focused on the details. While the church runs on a yearly calendar of events and programs, I am humbled to remember that God is working far beyond the reaches of my office walls and far beyond this singular year. So in the midst of all of this planning and dreaming, I am reminded of the words of a prayer by Bishop Ken Untener of Saignaw, Michigan written in honor of Archbishop Oscar Romero. I hope this might be a prayer for you as well:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. 

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church's mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

Amen.