As we awake to this day after the election, some things have not changed. Whether we are rejoicing or we are feeling stunned and disappointed, the Gospel still calls us to love God first of all with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. It calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), where the hero is the racial, religious minority, Jesus reminds us that our neighbor is the one, next door or around the world, who shows mercy. Jesus calls us to show mercy and to receive mercy. Jesus calls us to “love one another.” (John 13:34)
It’s back to school time. For some that means getting back into a “normal” rhythm. For us as a congregation it means that some of the activities that have been on hiatus get restarted. Choir is back in session. Bible Studies restart. Children’s Sunday School goes into a different rhythm. For many of us vacations are completed, and hopefully we’re well rested. September means that fall is around the corner. Cooler weather, changing colors of the leaves, among other things, catch our attention.
Summer is near at hand. The weather has finally begun to warm up. The leaves are out. The animals are busy. Students are graduating (we have at least three graduates this spring—Michael Kolakowski is graduating from Troy High School; Brett Cornwall graduated from Rochester College; Bethany Moekler received her master’s degree from Oakland University). Congratulations go to all three. Graduations mark points of transition. They’re a time of great joy, but also present a bit of uncertainty. Even if one knows what comes next, there is still a sense of mixed feelings involved. The future is always unclear to us, but as followers of Jesus we know this one thing—we do not go into thefuture alone.
We began a new year on November 29th, with the “Hanging of the Greens.” Advent is a season of prepara-tion and expectation. It is true that the signs of Christ-mas come earlier each year. It’s difficult to set aside the many voices that drown out Advent, but, for the church, Advent is essential. It is a reminder that John laid the foundation for the ministry of Jesus. As John put it, “I baptize with water, but he baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” Both are important. The water symbolically washes away the accumulated “stuff” that prevents us from fully experiencing the realm of God, while that baptism with the Spirit that Jesus brings empowers us to be agents of wholeness.
On June 9, 1985 I was ordained to the Christian ministry at Temple City Christian Church (California), which is where I had gone through my internship experience. My ordination came a day after my graduation from Fuller Theological Seminary. That was thirty years ago. It’s sometimes difficult to believe that it’s been thirty years, but then it’s hard to believe that I’ve been here seven years (July 1). When I was ordained thirty years ago, I believed that God was calling me to ministry, but I wasn’t sure it was to congregational ministry. Well, for the past seventeen years I’ve been engaged in ministry in local congregations, and God willing I will continue being engaged in congregational ministry for the foreseeable future.