It’s been well over 2 years since I’ve done anything with this blog, and I realized as I browsed our church website that it’s been too long. So, permit me to enter into a short time of reflection and confession.
Since 2012, it is obvious we’ve all been affected by the events of David Young’s departure in a variety of ways. Whatever stance, thoughts, or views are yours. As Mark Montgomery has pointed out during a number of sermons, one of the great tenets in the UCC is the right of private judgement. Our Silver Lake Camp and Conference Center states on their website:
We worship, learn, play, serve and work together, respecting the right of private judgement.
Throughout the past few years, I have allowed myself, for better or for worse, to lapse into a “holding pattern”; waiting for the settled senior pastor to arrive in order to put the past behind us. Your constant dedication and encouragement has enabled me to continue on when, at many points, I felt like giving up. The challenges we endured over the past 24-plus months has pushed many of us to limits we didn’t think we could handle. For me, it was truly the most challenging time I’ve had to face in my nearly 35-year career in church music. But, our weekly rehearsals and Sunday mornings together kept that fire burning in all of us. Through God’s grace and all our faithful work, we have persevered.
We all breathed a collective sigh of relief when Rick Derr announced in June that a candidate had been selected and his Candidating Sermon would be delivered a few weeks later. Even more sighs were shared after the unanimous vote to extend a call to Rev. Richard DenUyl, Jr. that morning. That light at the end of the tunnel was closer than ever before.
Now we find ourselves just past that newly opened door into the future. What does it hold? No one knows. One thing that is certain: we have been given, yes blessed with, so many great opportunities for our future growth, energy, and potential. In Acts 2 it states,
“…God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”
Everyone will need to see visions, to dream dreams. What will First Congregational Church look like in 5 years, or 25 years? As our 350th anniversary draws closer, we have a myriad of chances to make an impact on this community just as our founding members did in 1665. They stood firm on the promises that continue to be ours to share with the world around us.
I intentionally chose “Awake, my heart” as our anthem this morning because of the limitless opportunities ahead of us. We have that faith, that source of energy, that fountain of life which renews us.
Awake, my heart, and render to God thy sure defender, Thy Maker, thy preserver, a song of love and fervor. Confirm my deeds and guide me: my day, with Thee beside me, beginning, middle ending, will all be upward tending.
Truly, our hearts are re-awakened with a new day before us. Let our deeds be guided by God, and let our songs be filled with love and fervor.