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Well, three years later, and not only is it still living, but it is blooming. In that time, I learned how to care for it, how often to water, etc. I had anxious moments, like when a blooming stalk finally faded and died off. When the last one did, I worried that it was over. But then a few months ago, a new stalk started to emerge and at the new year, it began to bloom again – with more blossoms than ever!It will be three years next month that someone gave me an orchid for my birthday. I have never been more fearful of a gift in my life. Such responsibility! And while I like growing things, I thought of orchids as delicate and temperamental plants. I was sure I would kill it within six months. I was tempted to give it away to someone who already grew orchids and knew how to handle their natures. But I couldn’t. It was, after all a gift. So, taking a deep breath and a prayer, I took it home.
I am glad I took the risk to brave keeping this plant. Its blooms have brought me great joy and it has taught me about patient waiting, about allowing things to move at their own pace. And it reminded me that helping something to grow takes a willingness to risk, courage in new things, and patience on the journey. The same is true for people. We cannot bloom for them, we can only travel alongside them nurturing them, but also know to step back and give them space and time, so that God can create the growth within. For it was God, not me, that brought forth the orchid blossoms.
Praying for growth and courage for all of you.
Serving Christ with you,
There is something renewing about a new calendar – the pages clean, the little squares for each date empty, waiting for the possibilities of a new year. As we begin a new year as a congregation our year holds possibilities and challenges as well. Possibilities for reaching out to our community in new ways, of ministry partnerships and opportunities for spiritual growth. Challenges for a 30+ year old building that is needing attention, a building that has been a blessing to us and our community. The past year has been abundant with new experiences from a choir concert with other churches to a ministry to those seeking asylum and refuge from the violence and death in their homelands to an expanding outreach to the students at Independence High School. We have much for which to be grateful, much that makes us hopeful in the new year.
Please join me in this new year in praying for our congregation and its mission and ministry, that we may continue to be faithful to God’s call that we might be a blessing for others.
Serving Christ with you,
Recently, our General Assembly Stated Clerk, the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, called the church to prayer for justice, peace, and security for the people of Cameroon. As many of you know, this call to prayer hits home for us because of a family in our own church. Many in their family have had to flee homes and are living in the bush in order to be safe. (I am not mentioning specific names for security reasons – that is how dangerous this is.)
Well before this made the news in the PC(USA) our congregation was aware and we have made donations to support the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon. who have been helping to feed those who have sought refuge in the bush. Our gifts to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (think of One Great Hour of Sharing) have helped to provide basic necessities to Cameroonians who have sought refuge in Nigeria.
This may not seem to be a “Christmasy” message. And yet it is, in that it calls us to do the work of Christmas. In this season when we celebrate the birth of one whose parents sought refuge first in a stable and then in Egypt, let us offer our prayers for the people of Cameroon and all those who seek safe and peaceful places to live and to thrive – to have the life God intends for us all. As we proclaim the coming of the Prince of Peace, let us continue to pray for and work for Peace on Earth.
How to say ‘thank you’? God is pretty clear about what is desired – justice, kindness, humility. Things that can and should be offered year round. For aren’t we always grateful for God’s love and grace. Yet, it is good to take a time apart to reflect on all for which we are thankful, particularly those things for which there is no adequate expression, no words to fully express what is in our hearts.
This November, I am particularly in that position of finding ways to offer thanks when there are no words to say what is in my heart. The outpouring of love, the signs of grace, the expressions of support, the prayers that were offered, the emails, the notes, the texts in the midst of my mother’s dying and death, were as surely signs of the movement of the Holy Spirit as any I have known. I was not at all surprised – after five years as your pastor, I have seen this time and time again; in many circumstances, in our church family. But I continue to be in awe and to be grateful that God brought us together for such a time as this.
Know that as I reflect on all of God’s gifts this Thanksgiving, the easiest to offer and the most difficult to express is all you have been to me in these past days. But, as part of my offering, I will seek to be to others what you have been to me. Thank you for allowing God to be so at work through each of you.