A 7-Mile Walk
May 18, 2022 Creekwood United Methodist Church

A 7-Mile Walk

Posted in Deep Thoughts

CreekwoodUMC - Reaching Emmaus

7 miles is a long walk. Especially in the direction of Emmaus. For those who have never been to Jerusalem, this walk to the northwest would have been across mountainous terrain in desert-like conditions. It’s a wonder they could have such a deep conversation while losing breath from all the elevation changes and quadricep-burning downhill climbs. But Cleopas and his friend finished strong, much like we will in the last week of our series “Reaching Emmaus: The Journey to Peace and Purpose with Jesus.” If you’ve missed any of the previous sermons, you can find them HERE.

Finishing strong is an especially poignant phrase right now. Parents and students alike are counting down the end of school, local run-off Election Day is coming up, graduation parties are about to happen, and it just seems like we’re looking forward to one giant sigh of relief come Memorial Day weekend.

Only to do it again the next week…

Do you remember the first time you realized you don’t get a summer break for the rest of your life? I remember getting my first real ministry job in Atlanta during seminary. Half of my life was on a school calendar, complete with breaks that allow rest and trips – while the other half of my life expected me to come in to work the Sunday of Spring Break? I remember being so confused as to why anyone would want to enter the real world.

Paul has some advice to the Corinthians about finishing strong in a a race that never ends: “Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in al things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NRSV)

Before you get tired from just reading those expectations, know that Paul isn’t just saying “give all that you have until you die.” Sometimes we can think that because of what precedes vs. 24-27: “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-23 NRSV)

What’s important to read is that last verse: “I do it all for the sake of the gospel.”

Paul’s encouragement to run the race so that we may win is about finding our motivating “Why” behind what we do. Crossing the finish line of high school is amazing, but it can’t be the end. We can’t simply be a church that pushes to Easter and then stops. If all we do is constantly race small races, we won’t be able to sustain the drive to finish strong. BUT, if we know our “why” we will find ourselves willing to go to lengths we never imagined to not only finish – but continue racing strong.

I’m excited to tell you that I’ve convened a group of about 15 people representative of different pockets of our church and community to ask again what Creekwood’s “Why” is and how we might focus our ministry efforts to best reach and serve our community. We met for the first time on May 1 and will meet again on May 22 after intentionally listening to those who are not yet part of our church. There is no finish line yet scheduled for our work, so I will keep you up to date. However, I would ask that you pray for our discernment, clarity, and focus so that we might hear where God is speaking and provide our congregation with the right motivating focus and strategies to “Do it all for the sake of the gospel.” I also hope that you will pray about your involvement and engagement in the future – both within church programming but also the way that you represent Christ through your baptism in the race you run each day.


David Lessner

PS – If you would like to visit Jerusalem, I would love for you to join me on Creekwood’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Deposits are due in early September, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. It promises to be a really wonderful and spiritually uplifting time together.

Give to the Ministries of Creekwood