by Rachel Sensenig, pastor of Circle of Hope in South Philly
I’ve almost given up on pastoring several times in the past year. The loss of beloved partners in faith has been more than my heart could bear. But Jesus keeps bringing me home to the truth of who He is – in and beyond every circumstance.
In his parables about the friend knocking at midnight and the persistent widow, he tells his disciples to pray and to not give up. We are called to cry out for justice and hospitality in the world, and to expect God to deliver. We might even demand it, based on God’s love and care for all those in need.
This is not some prosperity gospel where we persist to ask God to meet our individual needs. God does meet individual needs, but Jesus’s call to persistence is about the expansive work of salvation and restoration for the whole world. This is a communal and global freedom from exile, the promise of a blessing and inheritance for everyone as children of God, embodied with God. The resurrection of Christ and the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost revealed a liberating new world order. We are not to give up on faith in this new world, calling out for justice and mercy until all of creation experiences the fullness. He is with us in the longing, the suffering, and the promise.
It is my faith in this loving Jesus that keeps me pastoring. It is the revelation of the Spirit in my compadres that keeps me pastoring. The small group leaders, the AA members, the artists and musicians, the neighbors, the students and parents and friends on the street who reveal God’s glory around me every day, the givers who share their resources sacrificially and show up to serve others keep me pastoring. So no, I can’t quit. I see that Jesus is alive and asking us to pray and partner with him in the movement of redemption, even in the most confusing of times and circumstances. His Spirit is at work in ways we cannot know or see, birthing new life in the darkness, just like his mother, Mary.