Pastor’s Newsletter Message – September 2017
~ There Is a New Creation ~
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God who has reconciled us to [Godself] through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation.”~
Dear Members and Friends,
As I write these words, my kids are probably just now boarding the school bus for their first day of class—both in middle school this year. The trees are in full leaf, but the green’s a little faded. It’s tinted with a vaguely yellowish hue, a washed-out look, hinting that the leaves are tired. They’ve done their life’s work in a season. They’ve spent their short leafy lives nourishing just one tree, and soon they’ll drop quietly to the earth where their only goal is to become fodder for the selfsame tree. It’s a beautiful cycle, even if we don’t feel ready for it. Vegetable gardens, at church and home, are heavy with tomatoes. Days are hot and bright; nights and mornings are cool. Late summer makes me sentimental. The words of an infernally sad poem by Housman come to mind, calling me back to a time when my hands were slick with chalk dust, and eager students called, “Monsieur! Monsieur!” (When summer’s end is nighing, and skies at evening cloud, I muse on change and fortune, and all the feats I vowed, when I was young and proud…) As an English teacher in Africa, I used to yearn for the cool of autumn, but summer lasted five long years in that place—a place that I now revisit daily in the quiet of my mind. (What eternal summer still haunts you?) Hark, the herald cicadas scream: Don’t bother putting the AC window units in the bedrooms now, slacker! It’s too late. Summer’s winding down.
And of course, things are ramping up at Bower Hill Church! We’re getting classrooms ready for the kids’ return. Another cohort of new members joins the fold on September 24. The chancel and bell choirs are tuning up. I’m preparing lessons for the upcoming confirmation class. Adult education is working with the new goal of “bringing faith development and spiritual formation to all persons 18 years of age and older.” To that end, the existing class will follow this new format:
1st Sundays: an excellent new DVD course on science and faith from “Living the Questions”;
2nd Sundays: a lectionary discussion led by Peter Smith;
3rd Sundays: confirmands join the adults for my monthly presentation on faith issues;
4th Sundays: guest speakers of other faiths talk about their beliefs, practices, and challenges;
5th Sundays: our “Talking about Tomorrow” intergenerational discussions in Fellowship Hall.
The longstanding adult class will no longer meet in the Friendship Room—which will go back to being a parlor. Instead, they will meet in classroom 204, a large and pleasant space that was recently vacated by DART, and just next door to coffee hour! Also, two other things are happening for adults during the “second hour” time slot: 1) Pastor Fred Leasure, our parish associate, will lead a curriculum-based Bible study in room 206, and 2) the old nursery (Room 202, which became too small for the burgeoning number of children) will serve as the “No Judgment Zone,” where folks who prefer to ditch the two adult classes can hang out by the Keurig and chat as they wait for their friends, spouses, or children to finish class. These new things are due in large part to wishes that were expressed by church members at our “Talking about Tomorrow” events.
Each ending is a new beginning. This, too, is a beautiful cycle that we witness time and again in our lives, and in the lives of loved-ones, and in the lives of our beloved institutions. As summer draws to a close, I feel excited about the new things that are coming to Bower Hill Church. I hope you do, too. The Apostle Paul says, “There is a new creation.” And that’s why we do all these churchly things anyhow. The new creation takes place around us and within. It’s the force of transformation at work in our community and our world. In God’s mysterious economy, nothing is lost or wasted. In Christ, old ways, old hearts, old lives, old attitudes, old habits and even old leaves are forever being made new. What new things are happening in you? It’s my joy and privilege to share these days with you.
In Christ’s Peace,
P.S. All of these things get their start on “Kickoff Sunday,” September 10, beginning with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. in Fellowship Hall. You don’t have to bring anything, just BE THERE!