Letting Go: A Bible Study for Asbury's Worship
(November 14 & 15)
by Rev. Lee Johnson
November 14, 2020
For more than 40 years, Frank Dorsey served United Methodist Churches in Kansas. One stop was at Asbury. I got to know Frank best when he was the Director of Church Development for the then Kansas East Annual Conference. During that time, I was developing new churches in Lawrence and South Overland Park. When I most needed help, advice, or a kind word, Frank was my 9-1-1, full of vision and ideas. He had a tireless desire to create a church marked by both grace and justice. He was forever doing good. On the morning of February 5, 2014, Frank composed an e-mail correspondence for then Kansas Area Bishop Scott Jones. Bishop Jones had announced his intention to bring to trial all clergy officiating a same-gender wedding. “For every 100 marriages, there will be 100 trials,” the Bishop told a clergy gathering in January. Frank was there to hear the Bishop’s threat. I know Frank well enough to imagine what he wrote on February 5: “Aw shucks, Bishop. You don’t really mean that.” Then, he would go to list the reasons why Bishop Jones should rethink his threat. After hitting the send button, Frank got up to feed the birds. A blizzard was raging outside. That was when he died. Frank was full of vision and passion for life. What are some of the visions and passions that fill your life?
Frank worked hard for a more inclusive United Methodist Church. He would be pleased with this year’s agreement between “all sides” to set aside clergy trials in relationship to same-gender weddings. The threat was gone. I am mindful Frank, who worked so diligently for this to happen, never got to experience the moment. But, isn’t that the way it is with life? Take Moses, for example. For 40 years, Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. Moses is literally a stone’s throw away from completing the journey. That’s when God takes Moses to the top of Mount Nebo overlooking the Promised Land. Says God to Moses, “You can look but you can’t go in. Your descendants will live there. But, not you.” Moses would die, just on the other side of the Promised Land. Have you experienced a moment in life when you did not get to finish what you had hoped to finish?
In her book, Strengthening the Soul, Ruth Haley Barton suggests Moses did not need to enter the Promised Land. There was no need to complete the journey in that way. Instead, Barton writes, “Moses already knew the Promised Land.” Forty years of prayer, 40 years of conversations with God, arguing and talking it out, 40 years of fine tuning his will to God’s will, had all worked to bring Moses into a close and meaningful relationship with God. The Promised Land had become the journey - Moses could handle well the incomplete ending. Today, we live in a world of incomplete endings. The COVID Pandemic has seen to that. And, now with Thanksgiving and Christmas upon us, it appears this will be a Holiday Season unlike any other. It might be well to remember the Moses Ending. Measuring achievement by the end goal can be risky. Thankfully, Moses shows us another way. Make the journey the goal. Moses did; so did Frank. Use it in ways that bring you closer to God. It is then that the Promised Land will be revealed. What might you do this week to draw closer to an awareness of God?
Asbury's Weekend Worship: https://www.visitasbury.org/worship/
Beginning Saturday, November 14 at 5:00 pm