The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

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Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Missed calls ...

Those of us who live in the world of cellular phones know the meaning of the words "Missed Calls."

You pick up your phone, see the words "Missed Calls" and immediately understand that someone has tried to reach you and you weren't available.

I wonder how many times God has called and we were either not available, or merely chose to ignore the call altogether.

For the past few years, the week after Christmas has been a time to retreat and relax after the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas dash. For the most part, I was able to accomplish that this year.

I retreated into the mountains of Upper East Tennessee and spent some time in contemplation, as well as using it as a time to just "be" with my family.

We ate. We talked. We ate. We talked. We ate ...

At some point in our sharing of stories from days gone by, my mom said, "You came home one day and told me you were going to be a preacher."

That was news to my memory and so I probed her, asking, "When was that?"

"It was when you were going to church with Uncle Russell."

That would have been 1969 or so, when I was baptized.

An older gentleman who knew my Uncle Russell had been picking me up on Sunday mornings and taking me to Hatcher Memorial Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. I stayed connected to the church for about year after that, I suppose.

I don't specifically recall saying, "I'm going to be a preacher," but I have no doubt her memory is clear on the matter.

I now wonder whether that was a missed call.

Off and on in my life, there had been this sense of calling, even though I likely would have never used that word to describe the impression ­ that is, at least not until my "heart was strangely warmed" at the age of 29.

I have this theory about the large number of baby boomers entering the ministry later in life: We allowed the noise of the 1960s and '70s to drown out God -- either never hearing the call in the first place, or allowing it to fade into the distance.

Some of us might even seek to fulfill that sense of calling through other endeavors, not even considering the possibility that the drive within our spirit is a movement of God.

Twenty-twenty spiritual hindsight being what it is, it's theologically reasonable that I would have felt a move of the Holy Spirit following my baptism.

Those of us who get into such things know that this past Sunday was "Baptism of the Lord" Sunday on the church calendar.

We read the story of Jesus' baptism and understand his calling, because we know the story: John baptizes Jesus; the Father says, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

The call came and Jesus responded.

He gave up his home and consecrated his life to the mission of God's Only Son.

It was a dangerous mission.

He took up the call of the cross, which he carried all his life and on which he eventually died. He became a homeless man.

Those of who have been baptized in the Christian tradition identify with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The grace that baptism makes available is the atonement of Christ -- we are "at one" with God.

Baptism involves our own dying to sin, newness of life, union with Christ, receiving the Holy Spirit, and incorporation into Christ's Church.

As I look back on my own baptism, it was far too easy to conform to the world and not allow myself to be transformed by the Spirit of God. It was some 15 or 16 years later that I allowed God to transform my life, eventually leading to the acceptance of his call.

When we truly allow the Spirit of God to move in our life, the sacrament of Baptism transforms our lives and we think, speak, live, and act in ways that "re-present" the image of Christ to the world.

But there is a part of baptism that is the calling. We receive the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit endows us with gifts that are to be used in the service of God.

As baptized believers, we are called by God.

God has a claim on our lives.

The work that many of us call "ministry" is a response to that call, and that claim, that God has on our lives.

If we can not point to such a work, then we have missed the call.

As I said, I was baptized at the age of about 13; but I believe my true acceptance of grace came at the age of 29 in 1985.

It was Christmas 1990 or so that my niece, Wendy, looked at me and said, "Uncle Buzzy, I think you would make a good missionary or preacher, or something."

I was a bit taken aback, but said, "Well, Wendy, I think if God wants me to do something like that he¹ll let me know.²

In that sweet, little Virginian voice she said, "Well, maybe he is ..."

I let it pass, not giving it a great deal of thought.

About three or four years later, I was asked to speak to the "Liars Club," a group of older men from Middlebrook Pike United Methodist Church who met weekly at the West Town Mall Chik-fil-A.

Afterward, one of the older gents said, "You know, you'd probably make a pretty good preacher. You ever think of that?"

I was taken aback, but said, "Well, sir, I think if God wants me to do something like that he'll let me know."

The old saint said, "Well, maybe he is ..."

It was still five or six years before I gave in. But in 2001, I finally decided to run with it, rather than run from it. In religious-speak, I tried to "let go and let God."

My question today is this: What is God calling you to do this year, or even with the rest of your life?

Discover what it is, and then run with it -- don't run away from it. Believe me, if my experience is the norm, you will not be complete until you do so.

And what is God calling this community of faith in The Meadow to do next?

God declares through the prophet Isaiah, "See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare ..."

In the days of Isaiah, the new thing is the new exodus out of Babylon.

In the days of John the Bapitst, the new thing is the new exodus inaugurated with the coming of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.

I sense that God is calling us to a new thing.

What is this new thing?

May we seek it together, may we discover it, and may we run with it.

To the glory of God!

Grace and peace ...