In just a few days my tenure as pastor at Lexington Avenue Baptist Church will come to an end. I wish I could say goodbye to each of you personally but I know that’s not possible. The nearly 18 years are a significant part of my life and my ministry. They are and will remain special to me, as will each of you. I’m grateful for your willingness to seek God’s direction in your lives and in the life of the church.
Henry David Thoreau observed “Things do not change; we change.” Change takes place whether we want it to or not. Sometimes change just happens. We grow older, trees grow larger, computers become outdated, paint fades. We see change all around us that just happens.
But I would venture to suggest that Thoreau meant more than the natural changes or our life. I think he meant as well that we can bring about change in our lives and in our world. We can exercise and improve our health. We can change our hairstyle. We can learn more than one language. We can plant trees to enhance our world, pick up trash to beautify our neighborhood, and we can take items to a recycling center. We can be agents of change. Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Anne Lamott writes of those special times when we gather with friends and family at a home and share a meal. This is how she puts her experience: I will go home, and I will have 25 people — 15 relatives and about 10 riffraff, i.e., my closest friends — and we will sit down and we will eat, the most sacred thing we do.
It struck me that eating together is the most sacred thing we do. Some of the most significant memories of my life are centered around the table. I remember eating meals with my grandparents. My grandmother sat toward the end of the table facing the window so she could easily look outside. My grandfather sat on the side, closest to the window, and the toaster. The rest of us would pull up a chair somewhere and we would share a meal.
Before long we will start seeing changes in the landscape around us. Trees will begin to turn to beautiful colors, mums will be displayed on porches, and there may be a bit of chill in the air. I always look forward to those days.
Of course not every day is this beautiful. Some days are quite rainy and cold and miserable. So today, I intend to soak in all the beauty that I can see. I wish that every day could be this nice, but that’s not going to happen, is it?
It seems that before the summer gets started we are gearing up for fall activities. School will soon be in session. Wednesday activities are being planned, even though renovation makes our fellowship hall unusable for a time. I’ve even seen some fall jack-o-lantern planters and fall decorations available.
The times and seasons come and go. Change is always occurring. But God is the one constant in our lives. We can depend on God to help us amidst the constant change of life. That’s true whether the change is about seasons, our health, our finances, the election of a new president, or any of the myriad of other changes around us.
It’s true that things slow down in the summer, but it sure doesn’t feel like that around here. We are in the midst of renovation. The changes in the fellowship hall level of the educational building and in the youth suite are evident each day. We have a long way to go before we are done but it’s great to see progress being made.
Every Sunday evening our young families get together, and from the pictures on facebook, it appears that a good time is had by all, children and adults.
But we know that the seasons pass.
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:
4Love is patient, love is kind.
Three hundred years ago in a monastery in France, Brother Lawrence discovered the secret to joyful living in his relationship with Christ. As a result he found great happiness and fulfillment in even the most menial and mundane of his daily tasks. Part of that joy was discovered in his complete reliance upon God. He prayed once, “Lord I cannot do this unless you enable me.”
“Darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines, it will shine all the clearer.”--J R R Tolkien
We know Tolkien as the author the The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This quote from him rings very true in the middle part of the long winter season. We love the sunny days, even if it is cold outside. But to be both cold and gloomy can at times seem unbearable.
IT IS TRUER THAN IT IS CORNY:
“If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.”
I will begin a 4 sermon series this month titled “I love LABC because . . .” You can see the schedule below.
On Wednesdays I’ll be sharing about my sabbatical experience and the ways in which it enriched both me and my ministry. You can find a schedule of those Wednesday nights on the front page of this newsletter.