For us ministry types not following the liturgical church calendar, these are a different type of intense days as the new church ministry year begins. The over-all vision has been worked on and prayed on for months, the supporting themes/ministries need to move from ideation to practice and among the many other pieces to move into motion, there is the volunteer search (Please read last year’s post “There Aren’t Enough Volunteers This Year and There Never Will Be”). In addition to all that, there is still the need and your own personal desire to meet with people in the hopes of listening, counseling and serving. As you know, no one goes into the ministry because they love Excel and calendaring.
It can be easy to lose track of the original reason of serving others during this ramp up as often you hear the phrase “Here we go again” with a sarcastic grin. I’ve heard it and said this countless times over the years and it feels like a statement worth unpacking.
“Here we go again” is likely asked by a broad spectrum of people in a variety of contexts. In the church world, staff, lay-leaders, and volunteers of all kinds.
“Here we go again” can be another of way of asking, “Will any of this matter?” We all have limited time and energy and it’s logical to channel that in the most productive of ways. So the question ‘will any of this matter’ might do two things: It might help us to eliminate things not worth doing and it might help us do things worthwhile doing. This seems obvious but can I confess in the moment, I usually ask this question in hopes of eliminating something. And frankly, I have to be careful I don’t use this as an excuse to avoid putting in the work of doing something worthwhile. In going through the process of reflection, we often find greater perspective here.
“Here we go again” is also a modest confession of our past disappointments and lingering pain. Perhaps not enough time has been spent on our personal soul-care, perhaps prayer/Scripture have not been the priorities they should be and perhaps the jadedness has taken over more than we realized. Healing and growth are so necessary on the Christian journey.
“Here we go again” might be the slow death-cry of anyone who leads, serves (or I suppose of the the ministry/program/community/inniative). No one wants to live in a re-run and no wants to follow or serve alongside someone who’s not in it for the greater reasons. In the Christian narrative, death can bring life, but it’s only when God is involved.
And therefore, “Here we go again” might actually lead us to a moment of repentance. Though it’s overwhelming to get everything ready for launches and kick-offs, it’s also a privilege. This is what we get to do. And when said in a flow of thanksgiving and with a hope for tomorrow, “Here we go again” can actually be void of any sarcasm and be recast as a moment of expectancy for what God will do again with us, in others, in our midst.
I get to all this from a passage that’s been a great source of encouragement lately – Lamentations 3:22-23:
While there is an original context worth exploring, among our applications is if we really feel like everything is the same old, same old, then this Scripture is untrue. In effect, “here we go again” nullifies the promise of God’s mercies not begin new every morning, and we might the greatness of God’s faithfulness. It’a an arresting thought. While I’m personally grateful that I am not forced to grapple with the prophet Jeremiah’s context of being conquered and my fellow citizens being exiled, I can appreciate the lament.
And as we work our way through own our laments, it seems that the ideas behind “here we go again” and God’s blessings are new every morning are incompatible. If this is true, then the faithful and diligent can lean on this promise and move forward with full confidence that this work does matter, the year is ripe with great potential for goodness, and we’re not really going anywhere in the same way again.
So it feels like another helpful exercise to take inventory of what is actually new today? What has God been bringing recently or has brought us today? And if we can wrestle with our fear of disappointment, can we be expectant for tomorrow’s new rich and beautiful blessings? It’s in this light that “Here we go again” can actually be hopeful and move us forward.
Many blessings to all of you who are launching a new year of Kingdom work this weekend. May we experience the power of fulfilled promises each morning.