September is upon us! Autumn is coming, school is back in session, and Charge Conference is right around the corner (Sunday, September 30th to be exact). With that in mind, I want to offer two, brief charges for the 2012-2013 program year for all of you.
Dear Saints, members, preachers, friends who are the Body of Christ at Ellingwood’s Corner UMC—this year, be open to the working of the Holy Spirit in new and profound ways. My prayer for you is that Jesus’ words from the Revelation to John will begin to be true in you “I am making all things new (Rev 21:5)!” Jesus was speaking of the promised perfection of Creation—the re-making of all things when he comes in final victory and we feast with him at the heavenly banquet. However, I believe (and our Church has taught) that we can begin to experience the power, presence and joy of Christ’s Kingdom here and now! For this year, let Fanny Crosby’s “Blessed Assurance” be your anthem “Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!”
Live in the power and presence of Christ—trusting that you can do new things. Seek out the new places the Holy Spirit is leading you. You have lived out your calling to be the Body of Christ—continue to do so, but recognize that the way you will do church must change for you to faithfully offer the Good News of the grace of God in Jesus Christ to your neighbors. Your challenge for this year (and the next several years) is to focus all of your energies not on survival, not on what has been, but on cooperating with the Holy Spirit to make Disciples of Jesus Christ out of your neighbors in Winterport and Newburgh.
Dear Saints who are the Body of Christ at Hampden Highlands UMC—this year marks a momentous occasion for us! On September 30th we will re-dedicate the building, and formally dedicate the new portion of the building, which is now debt free. We will celebrate! We will be glad! This is a day of celebration for a landmark ON THE WAY… This is, in no way, the end of a journey. Our celebration must be met with ongoing drive and desire to put the property to good use.
Church buildings can be a valuable asset, not because they have value, but because they can help us Proclaim and Share the Glory of God’s Boundless Love in Jesus Christ to all the world. The worst thing that could happen to us now is to see paying off our debt as an accomplishment and to focus on preserving the status-quo in terms of facilities, finances, or programming. Instead, let us celebrate what God has done through us, and continue to pray that God will use each of us in new ways to make Disciples of Jesus Christ. You have lived out your calling to be the Body of Christ—continue to do so, but recognize that the way you will do church must change and grow for you to faithfully offer the Good News of the grace of God in Jesus Christ to your neighbors. Your challenge for this year (and the next several years) is to focus all of your energies not on accomplishments, not on what has been, but on cooperating with the Holy Spirit in new ways to make Disciples of Jesus Christ out of your neighbors in Hampden and the surrounding communities.
Dear Saints, as we work together in our congregations and between them, may the Lord be with us as we offer Christ to those around us, fully and whole heartedly.
In Christ, with you,
The Rev. David Nicol, Pastor of Hampden Highlands UMC
Pastor-of-Record to Ellingwood’s Corner UMC