NTS Board Chair and Kansas City District Superintendent Jeren Rowell offers some pastoral advice as we begin Holy Week.

Good morning, Pastor

As we move into Holy Week, may I remind us again that these days hold both opportunity and responsibility for pastors? The movements of the church from Palm Sunday through Easter Day are more than memorial moments looking back to the events of the passion and resurrection of our Lord. These are days of “responsible grace” (to borrow the Maddox phrase) when we need to be guiding our people into obedient and full-hearted actions of response to the gospel. There are many ways to do this but I am fairly certain it requires community – gathering with great intention around Scripture and Sacraments to “think again” (i.e., remember). This remembering is not only passive reflection but should also be active response. Our people tend to have poor memories. A significant part of our job is to lead them in recovery and renewal of God’s acts of grace in their lives and of their commitments of response to grace. This is where patterns and traditions become much more than “the way we’ve always done it” to become a curriculum of discipleship that over time shapes a people to live from a deep sense of Christian identity. Through careful pastoral work, this communal identity has a chance to be as substantive as twenty centuries of Christian history and not as shallow as the latest fad. Pastor, I hope that you are intentional about the times and ways of gathering your people for these days. May we not be shepherds “who lack understanding” (Isaiah 56) but shepherds who “lead with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3). May you seize the pastoral opportunity afforded by these special days. And I hope you will enjoy the privilege of loving your people by leading them well as together we worship and serve the risen Lord Jesus.