The Sermon Born Again and Againand Again . . .- Dr. Nichols
From the Interim Minister . . .
Dear Christ Congregation Friends,
The interim ministry journey we began almost exactly eleven months ago comes officially to an end this weekend, and this will be my last Newsletter communication with you. I hope to greet and say good-bye to many of you this Sunday, January 29, and in their patented and perfected pot luck style the hospitality folks will feed us all after worship. Please do come!
It has been a privilege to work with you as your Interim Minister, preacher, pastor, and I hope supportive friend. I feel “truly blessed,” and I will leave it to Alexis to preach one day soon an exegesis of the popular misuse of that term compared to its real meaning which is what I intend here! (She and I had a great and congenial discussion last night about that word “blessed” and its monstrous theological distortion by the so-called “Prosperity Gospel” so gaudily displayed of late by President Trump and his ilk.)
Let me explain in passing that our church polity requires that like an ex-pastor (“expast”?) I as an ex-interim minister (“exinmin”?) must now be quarantined away from the Christ Congregation premises and activities (including worship) for a year. I fully support the overall wisdom of that provision in the interest of allowing a new pastoral relationship to build as freely as it needs to. You will never be far from my thoughts and prayers, however, even as I pledge absolutely to respect the intent and pastoral wisdom of that boundary around us.
(Of course, I don’t entirely like it!)
Here is one last bit of business which I want you to nag your officers and leaders about if need be. My last responsibilities as Interim Minister this month have been (1) creating a printed “catalogue” (as in a gallery exhibition) of our “Church in the Mind” pictures and their interpretations for all of you to have access to, and (2) writing a final “consultant’s exit report” about the Interim work and experience, and its implications for the future, again for all of you though channeled through the Interim Process Team and the Church Council. Both those projects are nearly finished, but I flat ran out of time to get them wrapped and bowed before Monday. Tomorrow (Saturday) the Interim Process Team and I will discuss together my initial draft of (2), and the finished products will be made available to all of you within a short time. (I have shared all this with Alexis privately: enough to get her fully “briefed,” but not so much as to get her hanged!)
Go with God, my dear friends. “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields around you, for they are already ripe for harvest!” (Jesus, in John 4.35)
From the Pastor's Desk . . .
Beloved Christ Congregation,
Greetings from Lawrenceville! As I write to you from our new, short-term rental, I feel suspended between eager anticipation to begin our ministry together and deep appreciation for these last few days of rest before our work together begins. This is one of those rare and unique “threshold” times – what Jesus called the space between the “already” and the “not yet.”
If anyone understands ending one chapter and beginning another, it’s Christ Congregation. And there is nothing like transition to make us keenly aware of how much we don’t know and can’t control. You, like me, are probably wondering what this next year will bring as we worship, pray, plan, serve, and minister together. There is a lot that we don’t know about one another, but I trust we are all coming together with open hearts. I feel so ready to love and care for you, and so eager to learn about your passions, joys, fears, and hopes.
I don’t know exactly how our new ministry together will unfold, but I do know that the One who called us into relationship also travels with us along the way. I also know that when the din of chaos grows louder and louder, the wisest and most faithful thing we can do is engage in sacred listening together. Therefore, I plan to spend the next few months listening to your individual and shared stories, and helping all of us listen for movement of the Holy in our midst.
What immediately attracted me to Christ Congregation was the authenticity with which you approach your relationship with God, the deep care you show for each other, and your thirst for opportunities to drop your own spiritual plumb lines deeper – and boy is it tempting to hit the ground running with nonstop programming to quench that thirst. But I'm going to resist that temptation.
Experience has taught me that any programming or visioning we undertake must be done with integrity to who we all are and where we feel called. This deliberate approach, full of listening and reflecting, is not the fastest way to get things done, but it is rich and ripe with opportunity for deep connection and transformation.
So you'll see me spending a lot of time listening and learning from you, especially at first. Your church leadership is also helping me set up small, regional dinners for 8, which will enable us to get to know each other in settings that allow for more storytelling and deeper conversation. Over the next several months I hope to meet with each of our members individually or as family units, but these dinners will allow us more immediate connection.
Speaking of getting to know you better, I would like to ask each family to write me a letter – on paper or via email – introducing yourselves with anything you would like me to know about you, your faith journey, or your relationship with Christ Congregation. As I begin to connect names and faces and stories, these narratives will help me sketch out a picture of this church family. They can also serve as a jumping off point for our meetings down the road. Since I think it’s only fair that I do the same, please look out for my introduction letter soon.
Until then, may God bless us and keep us all on the way.
Worship This Week -Sunday, January 8, 2017
9:00 a.m. - Bible Study based on the revised common lectionary readings with The Rev. Bob Moore.
10:00 a.m. - Worship service led by The Rev. Dr. J. Randall Nichols, Interim Minister at Christ Congregation.
11:30 a.m. - As a thank you to Dr. Nichols on his last day as Interim Minister of Christ Congregation, a potluck brunch will be served following worship. All are invited as a send-off to Randy after eleven months with Christ Congregation.
To submit announcements and suggestions to be included in the CC Newsletter, email firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday each week.
The Rev. Dr. J. Randall Nichols, Interim Minister
Joanne Hardgrove, Organist-Choir Director
Brandi Grove, Church Secretary
Rebecca Fransisco, Seminary Intern
The Rev. Jeffrey Mays, Pastor Emeritus
Office Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.