One recent night before Christmas as Suzanne and I were driving through our neighborhood we were reflectively conversing about the fact that it has now been seven Christmas and New Years seasons that we have lived in Woodhaven, (just blocks from the church) and have responded to God’s call to serve FSPC.
As with so many things in life, this time has seemed to have flown right on by. So much has changed though. When we relocated to Omaha we were first time homeowners with dreams of a family. I knew in theory about serving a church, but was just beginning to practice what I have been taught. Since that first Christmas our household family has grown by two girls and one dog, and we have felt the loving embrace of the Faithful Shepherd family as it has grown in grace.
Each year at this time, when the next year is peaking around the corner (as I write this the day after Christmas), I can’t help but visualize myself standing with one foot in the past and the year that was with the other ready for the journey, that which is to come.
Through ministry in this particular church I have learned so much, and I have experienced wonderful growth in different areas of my life. Through learning from challenge and change and staying faithful to God’s steadfast yet transforming call, we have walked this journey of faith and have seen much along the way. Someday when I am old, I will look back at these years with a heart-filled with joy and gratitude for this transformative experience.
What do you suppose comes next for us together as pastor and congregation? My hope for the new year comes from my deep belief in the transformational work of the Spirit in both the individual and the community. For even when we become well experienced in life, we are wrong if we believe that we stop growing in a transformative way in faith.
When we talk about change and growth around the table at Session meetings, I remind the elders that the desire and need to change is not the same as describing something (or a church) that is broken and in need of fixing. Rather, with healthy change comes strength and skill and newly re-kindled faith. This growth is available for all of us no matter our physical limitations or age. This growth is available for the church as a whole no matter what it has experienced in the past.
Beginning at the Congregational Meeting on January 26th and continuing through the year, you will hear me use the term “adaptive/cultural change.” Some of you may be familiar with this terminology, others may not. Adaptive and cultural change center around patterns that are deeper rooted than technical fixes or creating new procedures. The root of this kind of change is challenging but the growth that results is nothing less than transformational and pave the way for generations to come.