When it comes to the benediction of a worship service most Pastors want to send worshipers out with a final good word for the week; 'The Lord be with you,' 'Peace of Christ be with you,' etc. This past Sunday my fellow Beeson pastors and I visited Ginghamsburg Church near Dayton, Ohio. At the benediction Pastor Mike Slaughter capped off the sermon for the day with these final words, "and remember, You're going to Die."
The sermon unpacked Luke 9:51-52 where Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem knowing that the cross is before him. He knows, the disciples know, that Jerusalem is not safe, and yet he goes because he has been sent for this purpose. Pastor Mike connected this text to Ash Wednesday where we receive the imposition of ashes and hear the words, 'remember you are dust' or 'from dust you came, to dust you shall return.' The point was to evoke a wondering; 'What then, am I doing while I'm alive? What am I doing that matters? What is the purpose of my life?' Jesus had a purpose and he set his face toward it, what is our (my) purpose?
Following the service our cohort had the joy of lunching with Pastor Mike and some great staff at Ginghamsburg. In that space he added a follow up his benediction; God does great work in grave yards.
That follow up foreshadows the coming theme of Resurrection Sunday. It also led into a conversation about the ministry of Ginghamsburg Church and what we had experienced on our trip.
Our first visit of the day was to Fort McKinley, a suburb of Dayton. A couple of years ago a UM church that had not kept pace with the changing environment around them came under the leadership of Ginghamsburg. We arrived at the church around 8 AM to find people gathering for a bountiful breakfast. At the Fort breakfast is served from 8-10 AM. About 300 people gather for this meal each week. At 9 worship begins with two services following. What we saw was a church that was dead, but it found new life. God does great work in grave yards.
Pastor Mike shared about the economic situation in Dayton, how it is city that is dying, and about their work within it. He talked about the church's work in Darfur and South Sudan and said, we go and we give because God does great work in grave yards.
We came away with plenty of good impressions. The first two are profound. You're (we're) going to die. God does great work in grave yards!