Dear Church Family, I'm currently reading a book called Deep Change by Robert Quinn. Chapter one is called "Walking Naked into the Land of Uncertainty." That is what it feels like, says Quinn, to make deep changes in our life. I've experienced the feeling of "walking naked into the land of uncertainty" many times. That's been true in my personal life, including getting married, having children, struggling with a chronic vocal cord disorder, and growing older. It's also been true in my vocational life on at least three occasions. The first was when I left a lucrative career in the insurance business to attend seminary. The second was when I left my old denomination. The third occasion of "walking naked into the land of uncertainty" was when I came to BUMC. Although I had a business background, and national denominational experience, and had pastored large churches, nothing can prepare a person for the size, scope, complexity and challenges of pastoring a "mega-church." Brentwood is the largest United Methodist church in Tennessee and one of the largest in the country. The only way to learn how to navigate such a place is to plunge into the deep end of the pool! Thankfully, I'm beginning to figure this job out, although I still have a lot more to learn and always will.
Through these life experiences, I've learned a few lessons about "walking naked into the land of uncertainty." First, doing so is scary. All of us, to some extent, fear the unknown. Second, making a major change is exciting. Embarking on new possibilities and adventures is a thrilling experience. Third, and most important, we do not "walk naked into the land of uncertainty" alone. We have family, friends and church family to accompany us. And, even more crucial, we walk into the future with God, who promises never to abandon us, not even at death. I preached my first sermon when I was sixteen years old, a year after becoming a Christian believer. My text was Proverbs 3:5-6. I memorized that passage of Scripture in the old King James language which says, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." That promise has always held true in my life, even when "walking naked into the land of uncertainty." I don't know exactly where God is leading BUMC as our future unfolds. I find that truth both scary and exciting. But I draw great comfort from the fact that we do not walk into the future alone. First, we walk with one another as a community of faith. And second, God walks with us on the journey, leading us toward an unknown but promising future. I can't wait to see where we end up! I hope to see you this weekend for group-life connections and the worship of God. We'll take a one week break from our journey through the Lord's Prayer to recognize our graduating seniors, and my sermon will focus on family issues in honor of Mother's Day. Finally, it was good to receive the following 17 new members: Sarah Colvin; Richie Goodenow; Lesley King; Doug, Bonnie, Clara and James Owen; Allen, Kelli, Grayson and Jackson Hodge;
and Law, Amy, Carter, Graham, Xander and Bryce Johnson. Welcome to our church family. In Christ's Love and Service, Martin