Monday, January 26, 2009

And They're Out of the Gate

(from Janet, the pastor's wife)

Well, the Launch Team is launched!!! We had a great meeting on Saturday with 8 of us (including Jim and me) with at least another 2 who are committed, but couldn't make the meeting. YEE HA! It was wonderful to have these people meet each other and the enthusiasm, excitement and brainstorming was really exciting for us to see. A couple of follow-up e-mails from some of the participants were especially uplifting. And I was amazed by the immediate offers of help - both time and possible donations. I feel a sense of relief that we truly are not alone in this venture, but also sense the challenges of now channeling and coordinating a group of very enthusiastic volunteers. Please pray for this process; that all (including us) will have open hearts allowing God's spirit to be our guide.

Hugs to all,
Janet :->

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Unrevealed Until its Season

I am getting so excited! Things are really starting to get going around here! God’s timing may not have been my timing, but the timing feels perfect. Here’s what’s been happening or is coming soon for New Day UMC:

10 of our 14 Connectional Churches gathered together for an update on events last Saturday. 30 clergy and lay folk were 1) affirmed for all their support thus far, 2) informed and motivated by presentations from our District Superintendent and our Director of Congregational Development, and 3) inspired by testimonies from a colleague, a lay person, and a real live Big Lake family. We wrote prayers of support for the people of New Day, and we gasped at Wish Lists that are definitely beyond the capacity of any single church (but not beyond the capacity of God working through all of us!). The light of the world (a Christmas votive) was sent back with each church as a symbol of our hope, unity, and connection together. Please pray that all of these other United Methodist congregations may be used and blessed in mighty ways as they commit more of themselves to reaching out for Jesus.

This coming Saturday (1/24) will mark the formal start of our official Launch Team. For 6 months I have struggled over pulling this group together. But relationships cannot be rushed, and commitments cannot be forced. Calls this week have miraculously revealed that NOW the time is right. So far, 7 people have stepped forward from the community to take on the intense, messy, exciting challenges of launching this new faith community. Please pray for these first faithful responders as they answer this call of Christ’s.

Our space received the city council’s nod-of-approval earlier this month, and so build-out has begun. We’ve been choosing carpeting, paint, lighting, doors, and much more. The basic framing has gone up like a magical outline of what will be. In two short months, we may be ready to move in! Please pray for all those “temple builders” and the holy work that will take place within those walls.

Our first Pre-Launch Service has been scheduled as an Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 11th. We will mark the start of New Day with a celebration of the resurrection itself. Baptisms and a consecrating of the space will bless this budding community, and the extended Christian community will be invited to witness to their support. We’ll then be ramping up the worship schedule through the summer, with regular, weekly services kicking in right after Labor Day. Please pray for vibrant worship to be our norm, and encounters with the living Lord to be commonplace at these services.

All of this and more has me ........ well ........ excited! And I hope it has you excited too! I feel like the song on page 707 of our UM Hymnal is talking about us: In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree; in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free! In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see. There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; there’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me. From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see. (Hymn of Promise, words and music by Natalie Sleeth, 1986). Wonder and awe fill me as I witness these divine promises emerging before my eyes. A new day IS dawning from the darkness, and I AM filled with hope. How about you?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What's a Christian to Think?

Wondering what the rest of the story is on the fighting in Gaza these days (OK, so not the entire rest of the story, but at least more than what you hear on the news)? Here's a well-done article on the background of the conflict from another United Methodist pastor in Kansas City, Rev. Adam Hamilton. It is called, "Making Sense of the Gaza Strip" and is on the website known as I haven't read anything else on this site, but I liked the article by Adam. It's worth knowing, plus it throws in a WWJD perspective at the end. What do you think of the whole Middle East fighting situation? And what do you think Jesus would do or have to say about the situation?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Seeing the Dawn of a New Day

A new year is on the horizon. I can hardly wait! How about you? Who knows if all of our hopes, dreams, or expectations will all come to pass, but I sit on the verge of 2009 eagerly waiting for the New Day to dawn! Want to see what I see? I now see 5 dedicated families emerging from the crowds, indicating a connection to this new faith community. But I also see 5 becoming 10, 10 becoming 20, and so on and so on... I see a rainbow of God’s children coming together and a new sense of family dawning!

I now see 60 stackable red chairs, 16 risers, 4 bookcases, 2 rolling carts, 24 sets of merlot-colored curtains, 1 desk set, and 3750 square feet of sheetrock, electrical wiring, and insulation being readied for construction. But I also see a space that will soon confirm for families that we will take care of their children and we will take care of their everyday concerns. Within a renovated office building and within people’s hearts, I see new temples of God dawning.

I now see people with limited understandings about the Bible, limited involvement with Christian practices, and limited experiences with the living Christ. But I also see a growing interest in spirituality, a growing hunger for authentic community, and a growing need for direction with all of life’s struggles. I see people encountering Christ in dynamic ways and new commitments to the spiritual journey dawning.

I now see gifts of $20, $200, $1275, and $15,000 being deposited for the work of kingdom-building; I see an annual budget of $250,000 already more than half covered. But I also see hundreds of people eager to support the rest so that the Holy Spirit can change lives. In spite of financial woes, I see a new abundance of resources dawning!

I now see 4 infants being baptized at our first Preview Service this Lent/Easter, and representatives from our Partner Churches surrounding them with their promises of support and love. But I also see one service, then one more, then one more, until we are gathering to praise on a weekly basis in the Fall. I see hearts surprised that God has become so real for them and a new spirit of worship dawning!

2009 is dawning for all of us. What do you see ahead for New Day UMC? What do you see ahead in your future? May God bless the visions inspired within our souls!