I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. – 1 Kings 3:12
The end of July our Elders had a visioning retreat. The primary purpose of this retreat was to set time aside for our Elders to dream, vision, and finally to discern what is standing in our way. I have said it before and I will say it again, those we have called to lead this congregation are outstanding! Our Elders are thoughtful, careful, loving, and, most of all, faithful. We articulated our vision, “First Presbyterian Church is a grace driven church rooted in scripture, committed to Christ, who creatively nurtures the community by extending love, grace, support, faith, and hope.”
This is a powerful statement in that is connects our foundation with our call. We are a grace driven church. The gratitude for God’s grace compels to to proclaim the Gospel to all with ears to hear. We stand on the foundation of scripture as we make this proclamation. We do this not in the abstract but out of our relationship and commitment to Christ as our Savior. Grace, Scripture, and Christ are our foundation which calls and supports us in our action in the world.
The word that connects the foundation with our call is “creatively”. Our witness in the world can not simply replay the same old tapes that the Church has used for generations. Our God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. This is a God who is continually at work in, through, and around us to draw the world to Himself. If we the church are committed to proclaiming the Good News that this God gives us we will have to work to creatively nurture both the community within our congregation and the community outside our walls. Gone are the days when a congregation just needed a good choir or a good preacher to bring people in. Those weren’t good days. They contradicted the very character of God. God doesn’t sit back and wait for people to come to Him. He is a sending God. Forty-four times within the Gospel of John Jesus tells us that he has been sent by the Father. The forty-fifth time sending is mentioned Jesus is saying, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” –John 20:21.
The question we must wrestle with as the Body of Christ is how and where Christ is sending us. When the way isn’t clear we must rely on the gifts that God has provided to creatively find the way forward. To that end, our congregation will be engaging the community in ways we never have before as we work to understand how God is calling us out of the walls of our building into the community. We will be hosting “innovation studios” where we as well as other leaders dream and discern ways Christ is calling us into the world. The August 14th Sermon was an example of what that could look like.
As we begin our second year together, I look forward to using every ounce of my God given creativity. I look forward each of us putting every bit of our being into proclaiming the Gospel to our neighborhood. Just as Solomon was granted his request and far more, may we too be provided a wise and discerning mind and far more. Amen!
In Christ’s Service,