Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Serra Retreat Center Pastors' Retreat

Nestled up in the hills off of Highway 1 in Malibu is a Franciscan Retreat Center called Serra Retreat, run out of St. Joseph's Church in Los Angeles, the 26 acre Center was purchased from the Frederick Rindge estate in 1942 for $50,000. Today eight Covenant pastors from the PSWC and David Kerstens gathered for a time of guided reflection on John 13:1-17, quiet and prayer. Part of my reflection is here on this blog.
Clusters are geographic groups of Covenant churches throughout the country. Each cluster has an assigned leader by the regional conference ministerial association. The motivating concern is not one more set of meetings for political maneuvering, but a comprehensive way to care for pastors. I recently read that of my graduating seminary class in 1980, only 10-20% are still in active ministry! Loneliness, burnout, and finances are just some of the reasons for the shrinkage. Some say the life of the local pastor has increased in magnitude of stress because of diminishing church-going population, multiple-church attendance (some families I know are actively part of 3 local churches simultaneously) and heightened "customer satisfaction" issues. The general population put more demands and expectations on pastors.
So we gathered for a hour to share about our current situations and the situations of the cluster of churches around us. Then we were sent off into the sun with John 13:1-17 to read, pray, reflect and ponder on. Witht he wind blowing down from the hills out onto the ocean, three things jumped out at me: Jesus knew "the time had come", Jesus "knew that the Father had put all things under his power" and he asked his disciples if they "understand what I have done for you?"
What time is it, really? Time chases me. Time is not always my friend. I often feel chronically late and behind. Jesus knew the time. He knew when something was ending and something else was beginning. I need to know Jesus' time. Jesus also knew that the Father was in control. This passage has Judas betraying him and Peter arguing with him. That would set me off wacky! I get distracted by critics and crises. I try to fix immediate problems with all the energy I can muster, forgetting that God is in control. I get anxious and worried that if I don't do something right now, in a hurry, this person will be upset or that person will leave the church for a better one. Jesus meaningfully engaged the disciples with a question when he was done washing their feet. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" Too much of my language is filled with didactic statements, arguing for , selling, defending, pushing. So much of our language today is the language of combat. Some conversations sound like a contact sport. Jesus is comofrtable with a question that is not a set-up, but a genuine question that invites the disciple in. More questions, less statements.


At 9:06 AM , Blogger Rick said...

I have such good memories of being at that center on two occasions for Evangelism and Prayer Leaders' advances. What an extraordinary place - and like so many locations, if the church of Christ did not own them, it is highly unlikely that they could ever be secured because of their cost. But as extraordinary is how Christ comes at meets us when we have set aside times like that.


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