Pastors Message

Pastor Roger L. Steiner

God’s grace be with you.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4: 7-8, NIV)

Life, as a journey, can be viewed as a series of short sprints strung together, or as one long marathon.  Either way, the race must be run.  There is no getting around it.  One’s frame of mind and conditioning to endure the journey to the end depends on how we view it, for both require different kinds of training.  Sprinters train much differently than those who run long distances.  Take the tortoise and the hare, for instance.  The tortoise remains slow and steady with a focus on moving ahead with surety of steps, while the hare seems erratic and distracted in its hurriedness to win the race.  They each have been built differently in body, mind, and spirit.  Each view the race differently, and each live out the race differently.  At the end of the tale as told, the tortoise finishes first.  However, on a more grand scale, we see that both cross the finish line.

And this is the point I want to get to.  In our journey of faith and life, the church is made up of both long distance runners and short distance sprinters.  Some move along in a slow and steady, yet sure-footed pace, while there are those who appear erratic and distracted along the way.  It seems like the church is not going to get anywhere soon.  Yet, the role of the church is to help every individual find their way to the end of the race.  It is not about the church structure (building, form of worship, or otherwise) surviving to the end of time.  It is about each person being claimed by God needing to be nurtured and trained for either the short sprints or the long run within the Body of Christ.

To this end, it is my hope and prayer that in moving forward in our cooperative ministry endeavor between Penn-Zion’s and Brush Creek Lutheran churches, we would 1) see the importance of having both short distance sprinters and long distant runners in the faith, and that we would seek to understand, have patience with, and learn from each “style” of running the Christian faith; and 2) that we would together find ways, and take advantage of these ways, to strengthen and nurture each type of runner through worship, Bible studies, fellowship and service.  This may mean being open to both old-fashioned conventional AND newly-fashioned unconventional means to accomplish the task of nurturing and conditioning.

The upcoming seasons of Lent and Easter in the life of the church are able to serve both the sprinters and the marathoners.  Forty days in the disciplines of Lent, fasting and praying and repentance and diving into God’s Word, nurtures both in all aspects of body, mind, and spirit.  There will be many opportunities to worship.  There are devotional materials available as “quick guides” for those on the move, as well as ongoing Bible studies for those taking the slow and steady track.  Both seasons of the church provide the strength in the fellowship of faith, and the guidance in God’s Word, so that one day we are able to confidently cross that finish line—some ahead of the others—some in a straighter line than others—but nonetheless, all receiving the “crown of righteousness” for those who long for the appearing of Christ our Lord.

May the peace of God be with each of you in our upcoming holy seasons of Lent and Easter.   Keep the faith.  Fight the good fight.  And finish the race.

In the name of Christ,

Pastor Steiner