It is sunny and bitter cold out there today! The outdoor thermometer at my house said -18 this morning. It’s definitely a good day for long johns and a sweater!
This is about the time in the season when many of us start to lose our patience with the snow and cold. How are you hanging in there right now? As for me, I am not physically well enough to be able to move around in the snow, so I don’t get to be outside right now. That makes things hard. What about for you? Are you starting to climb the walls? Is covid making the winter blues harder or easier for you? I’d love to hear how you’re doing, if you want to drop a line.
Today I’ve got a pile of things to tell you about!
Next week Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. We won’t be coming together to mark the day, but I hope that you might take some time to “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Rock Charitable Grant
We’ve heard back about the Rock Charitable Grant. I’m disappointed to tell you that we did not receive funding this year. After talking with the director though, and learning more about what they’re looking for in an application, I’m confident that we will receive funding for other building projects that will need our attention in the next year or so.
Planting a Sapling
The Tisdales have offered to purchase a sapling tree to be planted in the front yard of the church, to replace the beautiful old maple that graced our presence for so many years and Betsy is inquiring about what we would like to see planted. Another sugar maple? A white oak? A blight resistant American Elm? What are your thoughts? Drop me a reply if you have a particular wish, and we’ll see what everyone thinks.
What a special day that will be this spring, to be able to gather together in the yard for the planting. Perhaps that can be the day we sing together. 🙂
Revisioning Work– “Change or Die”
This last week a core group of 10 of us zoomed together to start our re-visioning work on where God is leading us in this next chapter of our church. As you know, we are living in serious deficit spending, and we have before us the need to rethink how we live in the world. During the meeting we talked about how scary it is to be forced to change, and even how uncomfortable it can be to simply talk about changing. Even while acknowledging these fears, I was quite pleased to see a willingness in folks to meet our fears head on. Laughing out loud someone spoke up and said, “Yeah, we should call this work ‘Change or Die!'”
Recognizing the motive we have to change is helpful, and/but focusing on the financials must play second fiddle to the more important work of listening in for what purpose and mission God might have for us in this next stage of our church.
Since we know and believe that we serve a God who provides for us, focusing our attention on what God’s call is for us will lead us to the right solution to our sustainability problem.
But the question is, “How do we know what God is calling our church to?”
There are many different ways to approach that question, and so we will use a number of different strategies to figure out an answer. Firstly, as I mentioned last week, all of us need to be engaged in daily prayer for our church. Prayer opens up our hearts and invites God to speak– especially when we pray that powerful prayer, “God, put us where you want us, and show us what to do.”
Prayer is our first approach, but we also have another helpful way of engaging that question. It’s fair to say that when God calls us to something, the Spirit provides us with both the energy and the excitement to bring about that calling. So a great guiding question on this treasure hunt of ours is to ask ourselves, “What generates energy and excitement in our church?”
At our meeting this week I asked people to share what has generated energy and excitement in our church in the past. As people began talking and sharing, you could feel the energy rising. “Music!” someone said. “Caring for the world around us,” another voice added. “We always get excited about sharing food,” someone else laughed. “Youth!” someone added. “And social justice work,” another voice chimed in. The more examples people gave of times that energy and excitment was felt in our congregation, the more we began to see certain themes popping up.
Music— both making music and sharing it with others has created energy and excitement for us consistently throughout our life.
Mission/Community Outreach– sharing what we have with others in need has consistently sparked joy and rallied energy in our church, whether the need was felt among our own people, within our community, or around the world.
Fellowship— sharing experiences together and eathing food with others has always brought us together in positive ways.
Social Justice— Throughout our church’s entire 210 years of life, engaging justice work– as opposed to charity work– has sparked and rallied energy and excitement. (Even back in 1837 our church was on the forefront of social justice. That was the year we organized an anti-slavery society and spoke out strongly for abolition, even in the face of unpopular social pressure.)
Youth— Engaging with, teaching, caring for, and feeding our community’s young people has consistently brought joy and excitment to our congregation.
These were the examples our group came up with this week. But I’m curious to hear from you too! When you think back to times that you have felt energy and excitment stirring in our congregation, what comes to your mind? (Please respond with a Reply All if you share!)
Friends, God has something exciting in store for us in this next chapter if we choose to be open to where God might be leading.
Finding out what that calling might be will take–
- A willingness to practice trusting (God, ourselves, and each other)
- Discovering joy-filled curiosity
- Using our imagination muscles.
Are you ready for this adventure? I am! 🙂
“God, put us where you want us, and show us what to do.”
Warming up my Curiosity Muscles,