Anticipation, Reflection, Expectant Hope
Already, less than two months since I joined with you in your ministry here at First Presbyterian, the congregational meeting at which you will vote on calling your next pastor is on the horizon, quickly approaching. I am very excited for you. The PNC’s reports on their experience of Rev. Riehl’s preaching, her personality, her presence and her very apparent personal faith—not to mention the impressive skills, education and life-experience she brings—fill me with anticipation of what good things God may bring to First Presbyterian during her ministry.
Now, when I first began here just last month (during the “slow” summertime) unanticipated excitement immediately ensued when the building (and to a small extent the organ) sustained water damage due to the ongoing work on the roof combined with a deluge of rain. I certainly do trust that when your new pastor begins, the roof will hold up for her! But this surprising part of beginning of my own time here is a good example of the fact that the challenges of being a church together will not suddenly stop when the new pastor comes. To continue to learn how to be a church that connects effectively with young adults for Christ and that powerfully nurtures the faith of children (as well as of our older members) in a world that’s full of distractions will not suddenly become easy or require any less passion and effort from everyone in another month than it has in the past.
Fortunately, in my own experience of the church staff, the officers and members of this congregation, I’ve had a sense of being part of a team effort at every step; I’ve never felt in it alone. This gives me great hope for the future. If God is able to use me here for a short while because of the support and combined “ministries of the whole congregation and the staff, then I feel confident that God will be able to help you continue to grow spiritually and do Christ’s work in the world with a called permanent pastor.
My last children’s sermon alluded to this verse from scripture: “like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2.5) This congregation (responsible Presbyterians all) will keep on with needed building maintenance for our house of worship. But this building maintenance can also be a metaphor: all Christians, as individuals and as congregations, must be at work maintaining and constructing with the Holy Spirit our very selves, as we work committees and volunteer for events, and also as we attend to our prayers, to the reading of the scriptures together and as we place our very selves daily before God for God’s own use.
The date of the congregational meeting will come less than eleven weeks after my start date at First Presbyterian. But the briefness of my time here is not preventing you all from making a strong impression on me. The time has become all the more precious, and I expect God to show me even more in our remaining time together.
The peace and love of Christ be with us all,