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Becoming God's New Thing: First Edition

Welcome to “Becoming God’s New Thing” a way for me to communicate more often and effectively about the present and good future of our parish. This is a developing idea, so please share with me your thoughts and feedback, not only about the content of the ideas offered here, but on the most effective way for me to use this as a way for you to stay connected and informed.

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you see it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

This verse from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is God’s word of assurance spoken by the Prophet to the Jewish people held captive by the Babylonian Empire in the late 6th Century BCE. Here Isaiah makes a bold and risky proclamation on God’s behalf to a community of people who are grieving the loss of what has come before. It is bold because there is no future hope without the Promised Land, and it is risky because it calls on them to again place their hope in God to make a new future, a way forward, where none exists.

Over the last sixty years, religious institutions, and especially the Church, have been similarly, though less dramatically, displaced. Like the Jewish captives, we too are tempted to peer longing into the past and strive to recreate what was. There were times during our Centenary when we felt longings stir within us for a return to being the church we once were. I felt it, and I wasn’t even a part of Saint John’s past! But, thankfully, and in large part due to the leadership of members of the Centennial Committee, we were given opportunities to ground ourselves in the lineage of our forebears who, a century earlier, cast a bold vision, sacrificed for that vision, and risked greatly in the hope for a good future that was far from assured.

Among the many steams of salvation history that flow through Holy Scripture, there is one whose source begins in the first words of the Book of Genesis, and flows into the last chapter of the Book of Revelation; that is God’s activity of new creation.

I have some ideas of how God is calling Saint John’s to participate in God’s new creation, but it is our joy and work together to see and cooperate with the springing forth of the new good things God "is getting up to" in and around our parish.

Stewardship Campaign Launches this Week

Our 2024 stewardship campaign begins this week with my letter inviting you to reflect on the myriad ways God continues to enrich your life and the lives of your loved ones.

This year’s campaign is ably helmed by C. Ray Allshouse, and its theme is "Rooted in the Abundance of God.” The scriptural inspiration is the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes. This remarkable story, found in all four Gospels, reveals the transformative power of God's boundless provision.

I invite you to take some time in the coming weeks to pray for the spirit of gratitude for all that is right and good in your life and in the life of your family. This reflection is not a calculation of what we owe God, but rather a deep meditation on God’s abundant blessings, even in the midst of the pain and suffering of our human condition.

A Search for Our New Music Director

We will be forming a music discernment/search committee to call a new Music Director. Part of our work will be to engage in reading and conversation around questions concerning God's longings and purposes for music in worship, and what criteria exist to determine what is and is not appropriate music in worship. We may even have the grace and courage to reconcile the false framing of traditional versus contemporary music as meaningful categories. Everyone is invited to participate in this mature work of discernment, and either this committee or a subcommittee of it will serve as the actual Search Committee.

In the meantime, we will be alternating between recorded music and guest organists. I welcome your thoughts and ideas for this interim period. And because it is worth repeating, I want to affirm that I am not at all opposed to re-forming St. John’s Choir. I would love to have a strong, intergenerational, and growing choir. But I have questions about how we most effectively accomplish this without foreclosing opportunities for others to contribute their musical gifts.


Postscript:  This will be the "good-enough" post. There will be times when I won't have the benefit of a good copy editor, and I am slightly dyslexic, so I won't likely catch many mistakes. You may find this off-putting. I find it mildly embarrassing. We'll get through it together. M+

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