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Lockwood united
Methodist church
open hearts, Open minds, open doors

From the Pastor’s Desk . . .


Dear Church Family,

    Happy Anniversary!  As of July 1, we have been together for eight years, and yes, I have

been appointed for my ninth year here at Lockwood UMC.  I am curious as to how this

feels to you. . . whether it seems like just yesterday that I began as your pastor, or if it

feels like forever ago.  For me the time has been full of what I would call “Good, Bad and

Ugly” days, that have been our past, created our present and that prepare us for our future.

     For all the baseball fans in the congregation,maybe we can look at it like this. I/we are ente

ring into to the ninth inning.  I/we have hit a few out of the park by doing faithful and fruitful

ministries, but I /we have struck out a few times by not being as faithful and fruitful as

I/we could have been.  And yes, I/we have been scored on (I apologize  if my analogies upset

some of you) a few times by Sin, the devil, the world, just fill in the blank________, but I/we

are here in the ninth inning and the souls of individuals, the making of new disciples, the

growing of faithful believers, and the transformation of the world may depend on

what we do this coming year/inning. It may also  be a determining factor in whether I/we go into

extra innings or not.  I say this because one of my biggest fears as a pastor  is a the fear of

failure (a fruitless ministry.)  Being in pastoral ministry for me and my personality is a daily

uphill climb; I have put a lot on the line to follow Christ (as many of you have). Sometimes I

wonder if I do this for one of two reasons: either I’m absolutely crazy, or I really am called of God

to do this ministry.  I’ve tried to do the best I could, and sometimes it’s been a complete

failure, but there have been those times when it has all been worth it to see the fruit bearing in

others’ lives and in this community. As I think back over the last eight years and begin to pray

about the next appointed year,  I find myself dealing with fear /fruitlessness and/ or faith

/fruitfulness. The Scripture  that has been on my spirit lately is one that was spoken of often at

conference in June.  It’s from Luke 13:6-9, and reads:   “Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a

fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came  looking for fruit on it and found none. And he said

to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I

find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more

year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not,

you can cut it down.”      

 This scripture is essentially the story of a gardener who intercedes for the fig tree that, for

three years had proven pretty useless/ fruitless. The land owner becomes disgusted. Good soil in

his part of the world is rare and precious, and he has a community to feed. This is about so much

more than making money from produce. If he fails to be a good steward of the land, people will

starve and lives will be lost. Even though the land owner is ready to bulldoze the thing, for some

reason the gardener has compassion on the little fig tree and begs on its behalf, “just give it/me

one more year. I’ll tend to it. I’ll turn over the soil. I’ll fertilize it. If it doesn’t produce fruit after I give

it everything I’ve got, then you can cut it down.”  I feel as if that has been my prayer lately.

Please hear me; it’s not that I/we are fruitless. We have done some really great things together

these past eight years! It’s just that we have so much more potential. We could do so much

more. So this has been my prayer. Just give me one more year. I ask this of God, as well as you,

the body of Christ, the Family of God.  I ask this as the gardener (pastor), but more as the fig tree. I

am the fig tree. You are the fig tree. We are the fig tree together. And as I/we are starting year

nine (or the ninth inning), we never know how much time I/we have left.  All we know is that

God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit are rooting for us. They want us to be fruitful.

They have placed us into the precious soil of His world, and we have no choice but to bear fruit.

We are planted here for a purpose—to feed our neighbors, a community that is hungry.

   Every day someone in this community is asking, “Is there anything/anyone who can fill this hole in

me?” They have an empty space in them, that’s hunger. The question is this:  Are you/ are we/am

I ready?  Do you/we/I have what it takes to feed them?

   This year may be the only/last chance they’ve got. In fact, it may be the only/last chance we’ve

got. This is not about keeping the doors of the church open;  it’s about saving lives. It’s about

introducing them to the One True Gardener who can fill that hole in them and bring them back to

life.   The good news is that this work doesn’t belong to us. We’re not the ones who struck the deal. It’s

the true gardener’s. We all belong to a gardener who is rooting for us, who is giving us everything

he’s got. I give thanks to God for the gardener, our Lord Jesus, who is praying for you/me/ us,

“Lord, just give me one more year to work with them.”  With the gardener looking out for us,

how could we not bear fruit?  Ok, I admit I have been struggling with being a

pastor for some time, between fear/ fruitlessness and faith /fruitfulness, but I thank you for

believing in me and your desire for me to be your pastor for “one more year.”  Now as we enter

into the “one more year” of the appointive process,  I pray that during this ninth year /ninth

inning of our ministry together, God will stir up the soil of our faith, and do something in and

through us that bears much fruit. And instead of just taking life from the soil as fruitless fig trees

do, we get to help give life back.  

The Lectionary for July

 5—2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10; Psalm 48; 2 Corin-

       thians 12:2-10; Mark 6:1-13 (no study VBS)

12—2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19; Psalm 24;

        Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29

19—2 Samuel 7:1-14a; Psalm 89:20-37;

         Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

26—2 Samuel 11:1-15; Psalm 14; Ephesians

        3:14-21; John 6:1-21


Lockwood United Methodist Church                                                                                                                                                                           Church 232-4728
PO Box 241                                                                                                                                                               Pastor Travis Home:232-5007 Cell:417-214-6738
Lockwood MO 65682                                                                                                                                                                             email: ptravisjames@aol.com