God has a plan… We’re it!

2009 SEPA Synod Assembly

Bishop: God’s plan not a quick fix

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“God is using us to build God’s kingdom in this world in a new and energizing way,” and that divine plan can’t be derailed even by financial crisis, Bishop Claire Burkat said in her sermon opening the 2009 Synod Assembly.  

Drawing on God’s promise to Israel in Jeremiah 29:11 — “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” —  the bishop noted that the prophet’s speech was given in a horrific time of Israel’s exile, when many had been forced out of a comfortable existence into the life of refugees.

The message “arises as a beacon of light in the darkness because it reminds us of what God is able to do even in the worst of human circumstances,” the bishop said.  Jeremiah “is warning the people that there will be no quick fixes, no miraculous or heroic rescues.  They might as well settle in and make the best of their long captivity.  Because it’s God’s time and God’s plan they are working with.”

“Jeremiah’s warning is especially important for this American church,” the bishop said.  “In this time of rushed-through bailouts and rescue packages, we must be careful not to wish for quick fixes and immediate rescue from circumstances that we have brought on ourselves.  There is much for us to learn from this crisis.  But if we push too quickly and frantically to find a resolution, we will miss the lessons and just repeat the cycle again.”

Our Synod made adjustments in our own plans. Last year at this time, at this Assembly we were signing off on the building campaign for our new synod office at the seminary campus, the bishop said. “We were embarking on a strategic planning process, which would give us 5-year goals, and objectives, which would culminate in a capital campaign some time soon.”

“But last October we discovered that God has a different plan for us.  It doesn’t rely on money.  It doesn’t depend on the financial stability of the world economy or even the SEPA Synod.  What we are learning is that God has a plan – and we’re it!”

We could have scrapped our plans. But 6,000 responses from Synod members in our listening process revealed four directions – faith formation, putting faith in action, connecting with each other and the world, and equipping and developing leaders and congregations for mission — that can absolutely be released in every congregation with or without money, the bishop said.

“We are realizing that God’s promise of “completeness” and “fulfillment” does not rely on our human finances,” the bishop said.  “In fact, what we are learning in the midst of all this is something so much more powerful and faith-inspiring about our God.  Which is that God does indeed have a plan – and we’re it!”

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