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Pastor's Message - January 2019

~ 2020 for Perfect Vision  ~

“I am sure that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…”

~ Philippians 1:6

Dear Members and Friends,

What are your goals for 2020?  Are they the same old goals you gradually abandoned as 2019 inched to a close?  Mine are.  I just reviewed a document on my computer called “Goals for 2019.”  Of my eight big objectives for the last year, I only managed to achieve two of them—and only partially at that.  The other six are still waiting…for 2020.  The month of January is thought to have been named after the Roman god Janus, the spirit of new beginnings.  (Never mind that March was the first month of the Roman calendar.)  Janus had a face on both sides of his head, since the god of beginnings must naturally also be the god of endings.  He looked forward to the future and backward upon the past at the same time.  Can you identify with that?

Since January holds us tightly in its grip, let’s make like old Janus and look backward all the while looking ahead.  What can we see in the rearview?  The 20-aughts are well behind us.  The 20-tens have been a blur—a ten-year-period that I’ve spent almost entirely here with you.  When we moved into our house near Bridgeville, one of the heaviest pieces of furniture on the truck was our entertainment center, made of solid cherry.  Within four years, it was sitting at the curb.  The entertainment center became obsolete in the 2010s, as did the DVD player, and CD player, and the huge old box TV set that it once housed.  Now all our shows and music are “streamed.”  In these past ten years, world politics has taken a hard turn to the populist right—Brexit, the US Supreme Court, and China’s “president for life” for example.  At the same time, Me Too and Black Lives Matter have called new attention to the rights of the marginalized.  Gay marriage was blessed by the law of the land and of the church.  And despite the shrill claims of its opponents, it has done no damage at all to traditional matrimony.  (Bower Hill Church was one of the first congregations in the South Hills to celebrate weddings for same-sex couples, and we have held six such ceremonies to date.)  Marijuana was legalized in one form or another throughout much of the country.  School and synagogue shootings became regular occurrences.  Church attendance in the US decreased by 10% since 2010, though it has increased modestly each year here at Bower Hill.  All in all, the decade has been a mixed bag, “tares and wheat together sown,” perhaps as much good as bad.

What has this past decade seen in your life?  How has God been present and new to you in these years?  Probably a mixed bag again.  Besides, you may not know entirely.  Even hindsight is not 20/20, no matter what the old adage says.  The 2010s have been good for our congregation—for the replenishment of our membership, for the renovation of our facilities, and for the renewal of our missional vision.  There have been too many sad goodbyes.  But the reason we look back now is to gain wisdom and inspiration for the road ahead.  At church, in our world, in our private lives, and deep in our secret selves, let us face these new “roaring 20s” with the knowledge that the One who has brought us thus far is the One who walks with us tomorrow.  Here on the edge of 2020, our vision is far from 20/20!  But, “you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.”  Let us face this new decade with courage and with joy, knowing that it’s brought to us by the same One who gave us all the days leading up to it.  I’m glad to be making this journey with you.

In Christ’s Peace,


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