Monday, November 30, 2015

New chapters,

Many of you have heard that on November 29, I informed the congregation that I’d accepted a new call. Sometime around March next year, I’ll become the Senior Minister of First Christian Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

Therefore, January 31st will be my final Sunday at Plymouth Creek. Praise God that means we’ll have another Advent together! Another Christmas Eve candle service that will end with lights off, Silent Night lifting into a darkening evening. Maybe we’ll even do a truncated Cinema Sermon Series after the New Year, if you’re up for it. Let me know!

By then, it will have been seven and one-half years since I was welcomed into this community. And what a welcome it’s been! It started with dear Pat Farr telling me- my first Sunday- that I couldn’t be the new minister because I looked like I was still in high school! She was right. So I’ve grown a beard. I recall how the chairs were lined up straight back then, and our musicians were in a corner, hidden from view. They nevertheless directed the choir to sing more richly than I expected from such few voices. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, indeed!

Thy Word Worship Center worshipped in our space still, and for the next few years. I regret that we weren’t able to build longer-lasting, mutually respectful relationships with that lovely church. That said, I’m proud they remain “in business.” Though we had to say goodbye, we shouldn’t let that color over the fact we were good for each other, for a time.

Same goes for Yellow Brick Road Child Care. It’s likely they’ll move to a new building in the coming year. They’ve grown too large for our current space, and the building expansion just didn’t work out. I was looking through notes from our first architect interviews, well over a year ago. Everyone anticipated that our project would be in the $80-$120 per square foot range, max. The best bid we actually got this summer, after scouring the market multiple times, was over $200/square foot! Needless to say, that blew past the outer reaches of our plan, despite the best guidance we could find and the due diligence our leadership did.

I’m hoping we’ll settle on a clear plan for that arena before I leave, and will work hard to help create it. Regardless, please always remember that the 100s of kids YBR has served (very well, I might add!) over the past decade will grow up knowing that a church welcomed them during their earliest years, supported their development and future success. Thus, when they’re lonely, afraid or- God forbid- abused as, say, young adults, they’ll be more likely to turn to a local church for support, to God for guidance. In other words, this was never just about money. It was ministry. And good ministry too!

I could go on about other good stuff we’ve accomplished together- the garden, the bus, baptisms and weddings, funerals and new members- but there’s only so much space. Besides, our agenda now isn’t simply to remember what has been, but also to plan for, pray for, be excited for what will be. God, after all, is never done “doing a new thing”.

For the past several years, we’ve named as our vision “to become a beacon of Christian openness and service in the NW suburbs.” I think we made demonstrable, wonderful steps in that direction. Thus, to my mind at least, that chapter’s been written and written well. Meaning that a new vision is called for! And it’s one, I’m convinced, that springs from the deep wells of God’s grace and the magnificent dreams God’s still crafting for this church.

I won’t lead you to name and claim that vision, obviously. But I can say that I’m proud of what we’ve done together. I’ll spend the next two months supporting your efforts to turn the page, and will follow along gladly for years as you continue this glorious journey with Jesus toward the full coming of God’s Kingdom on earth. What a privilege to be included in that mission, amen?!

Grace and Peace,
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