Our Finest Hour

We are responding to the affects of the storm over the long haul. Mike Stonbraker, Superintendent of the Northwest District offered these thoughts about our work after the storm. I wanted to share them with you. – Will Willimon

In my weekly emails to the Northwest District pastors preempting Easter, I encouraged them to prepare their church families for the most meaningful Easter season the church had ever encountered, especially during Holy Week. I challenged them to take their people through the daily recorded scripture that was offered to them focusing on the final days of Jesus’ earthly life. I pushed for them to examine the temple (their church) for the money changers and con artist that spoil the holiness of the Father’s House. Upset a few tables and whip a few if you must! From courtyard teachings to final betrayal, mock trials to crucifixion, I shared with them to ready the canvas of the mind’s eye for the sunrise burst of Easter Morning.

So, just over three weeks ago our churches were celebrating the resurrection story of Jesus. My last email in the Easter series begged the pastors to invite their congregations to journey deep into the opened tomb and examine for themselves that it was truly empty. Pray for Jesus to meet with them and call them by name. My final sentence in that email stated something to fact that preaching a sermon about a resurrection encounter with Jesus is one of the easiest things for us pastor’s to do. But once the church has met the resurrected King, that’s when the real work begins. It’s not so much the Easter Sunday morning that counts…but more like the Monday ministry that follows…that’s where the real work begins. If I could ever find someone that can writes good books, I would love to tell them, listen, Willimon’s “Thank God It’s Friday”, or even Capalo’s “It’s Friday But Sunday’s Coming!” is just the beginning, write one that’s entitled “Thank God It’s Sunday, but Monday’s Coming.” To meet Jesus in worship is the easy stuff, taking Jesus home and into the streets is where the difficulty begins.

The command to Mary from Jesus in Matthews Gospel was, “go and tell the boys I’ll catch up with them in Galilee.” I think that was the Master’s way of saying to Mary, “you have seen the Resurrected Lord, now Mary, the real work begins.”

On Easter Sunday little did any of us know what work really lay ahead of us. How many times have you met Jesus in the past 19 days? My youngest son Matthew is a football coach at Smith’s Station High School. I have heard him say to his boys on many occasions, “The way you respond to winning will show your knowledge, the way you react to loss and adversity will show your character.” This Cabinet, the leadership of the North Alabama Conference along with her churches has shown their character. We have risen to the call. Jesus has met us at every turn. But the real work still lies ahead. If you will pardon my recall, I want to semi-quote a phrase and add a few words that have been part of me for many years. On June 18, 1940, while preparing Britain for war, in his speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill said, “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bare ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth (the North Alabama Conference) last for another thousand years, her people will say, this was their finest hour.”

Mike Stonbraker

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