In high school, my friend Todd worked at a grocery store. I brought some bread and fruit through his checkout line once and was surprised to see a bright green sticker on his nametag that announced, “I’M NEW HERE!” I asked him, “Haven’t you worked here for a while now?” He told me, “I’ve been here three years. But people were so nice when I had this stick- er, I just decided to leave it on.”
It’s been one year since Rick and the boys and the cats and I made the trip west from Kansas City. I know I’ve grown wiser this year – because, didn’t someone once say that wisdom is knowing how much you don’t know?
In a lot of ways, I still feel new. Maybe the benefit of following two long-term pastors is that people around town who knew Bernie Turner and Kent Harrop still say, “Aren’t you the new pastor at First Baptist?” Like my friend wearing his sticker, I’ll take that grace as long as they’ll offer it.
I’ll let them say it, that is; I can’t use it myself any longer. (Even if I wanted to, now we’ve got a new new guy, so I don’t think I could pull it off…) And though it’s been a year of learning and adjusting, all the while, we have been doing ministry together.
Digging into the archives, discovering the hopes of those who founded this church, it’s easy to see reflections of our early commitments in the minis- tries we’re engaged with today – and also, to see the ways we’ve grown and changed, adapting to the new ways the love of God is needed in the world around us.
This fall, we’ll begin to celebrate all the ways this community has been – for one hundred and fifty years – looking in, digging deep, reaching out. We’ll spend this anniversary year celebrating that history and using it to chart a way forward for our faith community. What would you say if asked: How can the history of this place – or the faith you have inherited, shaped, and made your own – call us all toward a future where God’s embracing, liberating love is made real in new ways?
Can’t wait to hear your answers,