“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . .” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
Seasons. According to the wisest man of the Bible . . . Solomon . . . “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
Centuries have since passed since he spoke those words, yet they are just as applicable to we who live in this time and place as they were when Solomon first spoke them. “A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot . . .” The lives of human beings are ever in flux . . . ever changing . . . ever moving from good to bad and back again. We may not like change, but we can’t stop it either. People, circumstances, living things, solid matter . . . no matter how hard we try to keep things the same, things change.
This church is not the same church it was 50 years or so ago when the two Presbyterian churches in town came together as one. It is not the same church it was under the watchful eyes of its former installed pastors. It is not the same church it was when Pastor Bill Warhover was called to be the interim pastor of the church. Nor is it the same church it was when I walked through its doors just 2 months ago.
Over the years, the church has passed through many seasons. Seasons of growing in membership, programs, new ideas, mission projects, etc. . . . and seasons of declining membership, shrinking programs, a lack of new ideas, a decline in giving. Seasons of unity . . . and seasons of division. Members have left or died, and others have joined the church or been born and baptized into it. Yet despite everything that has happened, the church is still here . . . a little worse for the wear perhaps but even now, once again, beginning to come back together, to grow and to learn, to try new things, to reach out to those in need, to make disciples . . . to be the church God calls this church to be. As we look back on this past year, we can see the many good things that have transpired, preparing the church for a great new year in 2019. For example . . .
- A new pastor is on the horizon.
- There are 7 people participating in the membership class.
- The building project is complete.
- As part of Stewardship season, we got to hear wonderful stories of how the church has made a difference in the lives of 4 of its members.
- Committees are up and running.
- Two new worship services are in place.
- All of the Elder, Deacon, and Nominating Team positions are filled.
While this, I think, has been the shortest Call ever it has been my privilege to help this church move from marching in place to getting up and moving again. More than one member has said to me during my brief time here, “Pastor K, it’s been a long time since I had hope but now I have hope again.”
To me, hope represents a clear movement of the Holy Spirit. It can happen through worship, through music, through prayer, through a good Message, etc. It can also happen when a hurting heart is healed by a listening ear or when one person reaches out in love to another and says, “I miss you.” I’ve heard those words more than once (and from more than one person) in the past few weeks . . . members missing other members . . . reaching out in love to help heal hurting hearts . . . encouraging forgiveness from wounded spirits. Love God / Love Others is not just the mission of this church, it is the core of who this church is in this time and place.
As with all seasons, my season with United Presbyterian Church is drawing to a close, and even though I come in order that I might go, such times are bittersweet. I rejoice that the church is once again ready to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commands in His Word.” At the same time, I am a little sad to leave yet another church I have grown to love.
You, the church, have weathered this latest season of storms well. Now go forth and “Transform lives by sharing your experience of God’s love and acceptance.” . . . This journey ends . . . another begins . . .