Dr. Paul M. Martin, President and Professor of Pastoral Theology
I get so excited when the Season of Lent comes around each year. The Lenten Season is the doorway opening thoughts of introspection, preparation and renewal for Easter and the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Some of the best preaching I did as a pastor was during Lent, Good Friday and Easter. I love the hymns of Easter, especially those that open the door to renewal and hope. Hymns like “He Lives”, “He Arose”, “Because He Lives”, and “The Angel Rolled the Stone Away” to name a few. I am sure every Christian resonates with me on the power of this season as a renewal of ones faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Easter represents renewal and resurrection. Recently, I experienced renewal and resurrection as I participated in a marvelous experience on the beautiful campus of the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois where leaders of our denomination, seminaries, colleges, universities and caucuses gathered for a conversation about our life together in our great denomination.
Under the growing excitement of our denominations theme, “Transformed by the Spirit”, we were able to share stories together as we learned about each other, visioning together around mission and learning about our ministry contexts. We did some much needed community building as we listened to and learned about our concerns. We talked about deepening our connections and developing of possible partnerships and finally networking as we disseminated information about our missions and ministries.
This became a Pentecostal moment for me as a dream of mine began to emerge. It is my dream that we connect with each other in new ways. Jesus reminded his disciples that if the Spirit was to visit and transform them then they had to be in the same place praying and on one accord. Being with my brothers and sisters in this dynamic experience proves to me that our denomination and its ministries are being used by God’s Holy Spirit in a new and vital way. A new wind (Holy Spirit) is blowing over our denomination opening new venues of communication and it is refreshing. It is a transforming moment. If I were to choose a text for this feeling I have, it is the following:
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for people to dwell together
in unity. It is like precious ointment upon the head that ran down
upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, that went down to the skirts
of his garments. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that
descended upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord
commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Psalm 133 NKJV)
This was a creative and renewing moment for all of us. We found out that we are being challenged to do a new thing for the Lord that has roots in old school experiences. We must be committed to the process of adaptive changes in our ministries that will prepare men and women for ministry in the 21st century. Key to this is the church being yoked in new and exciting ways with our denominational structures. Our common prayer then in light of how the Spirit of God is moving must be:
“Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me,
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me,
Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.”
(From: John 1:32)