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New Beginnings

Date: 
January 3, 2016
Speaker: 
Rev. Terry Martinson

New Year                                            January 3, 2016                                      John 1:1-18

 

NEW BEGINNINGS

 

THEME: The New Year presents an opportunity for a new beginning for you, for me, for the Dennis Union Church…

 

INTRODUCTION

  • “I have always been delighted by the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.”  (J.B. Priestly)
  • This is a new day, the first Sunday of the new year…
  • At the beginning of a new year it seems quite natural to think of new beginnings: new resolutions, new hopes, new promises, new dreams and visions of the future…
  • The New Year indeed presents an opportunity for a new beginning for each one of us and for the church… though for the church it’s not so much a new beginning as it is the opening of a new chapter…
  • I am very excited to begin this new chapter with you… I am very happy to be with you in this time of transition… I look forward to the opportunities I will have to minister to you and with you.

 

NEW BEGINNINGS

  • New beginnings can be exciting and energizing, magical and mysterious…
  • New beginnings can also be unsettling and frightening – in a sense, a new beginning is entering the unknown…
  • “A congregation facing the time between the end of one pastorate and the beginning of another is entering strange territory… Yes, you have been in this territory before, but each time you enter this territory it is different.” (Nicholson – p. 3)
  • “We have to discover together how we can get from here to there, from where we have been, and where we are today, to where we want to be… from the closing of one significant chapter in the congregation’s life to the opening of the next, coming with wholeness and harmony to the threshold of the future.” (Nicholson – p. 4)
  • During this time of transition we have three tasks to accomplish together:
    • The first is to come to terms with our history…
    • The second is to discover our new identity…
    • The third is to embrace our future…
  • Roger Nicholson, in his book TEMPORARY SHEPHERDS tells a wonderful story that describes this interim time… (p. 6)

“I was hiking one day over a 30 mile stretch of Vermont’s Long Tail through the wonderful Green Mountains. We had been hiking for several hours and it was time to rest and have a bite to eat. We came upon the perfect spot to set down our packs and catch our breath, a lookout point with a panoramic view. From this vantage point we could see whence we had come, now several miles in the distance. We could also look out across a beautiful valley 2,000 feet below us, as well as toward our destination to the north where the massive peak of Camel’s Hump beckoned. It was a moment which we would always remember – appreciating where we had been, enjoying where we were, and anticipating where we were going.”

  • “The interim journey affords a congregation an opportunity not unlike that experience on the Long Trail… The interim time is a moment in the congregation’s life when the members have a chance to look back and appreciate their history, both recent and long-term; it is also a moment to consider the present scene, discerning the good and the not so good in the congregation’s life; and it is a very special opportunity to look ahead and chart out the future course of the congregation.” (Nicholson – p. 7)
  •  “Every change of pastoral leadership is a unique opportunity for a local congregation to learn from its past, to weigh its strengths and weaknesses, and prepare itself for a new future, a new beginning, under the guidance of a new settled pastor.” (Nicholson – p. 7)
  • The Visioning Committee already has a solid head start on the 3 tasks to be accomplished during our time together, but there is still work to be done…

 

THE INTERIM MINISTER’S TOOLKIT

  • It is very important that we do not look at this interim time, this time of transition from John Brink to the next settled pastor, as a “timeout” or as a stagnant time in the life of the church.
    • The interim pastor is not like a substitute teacher who comes in just to have somebody in the front of the room. I remember from my school days that not much was ever accomplished with a substitute teacher.
    • We need to see this interim time as an opportunity for renewal and growth.
    • We have work to do together during this transition time
  • I brought something to share with you this morning… it is my interim minster’s tool kit… it has just 3 items in it:
    • First there is a magnifying glass…
    • Next there is a mirror…
    • Finally there is a flashlight…
  • We will use the magnifying glass to take a very close look at where we have been, our history…
    • “Every congregation has a story to tell about its beginnings, its achievements through the years, its trials, its struggles, and its contributions to the community and the wider Christian world.”  (Nicholson – p. 8)
    • The Dennis Union Church has a proud history – 150 years – which we will celebrate in June of this year…
    • We will examine our history together, perhaps creating a timeline to help us rediscover our past…
    • But we must be cautious: We must never let the past be so dear that we limit the future… indeed the best days for The Dennis Union Church may still be in its future…
  • We will use the mirror to get a realistic or true picture of who we are and where we are today.
    • A mirror reflects a true image… you cannot fool a mirror…
    • One of my favorite musicals is The Man of La Mancha
      • In the final scene of The Man of La Mancha, Don Quixote is surrounded by full length mirrors…. Wherever he looks, there is a mirror
      • He is forced to see himself as he really is - a rather disheveled mad man who bravely battles with windmills, sees a common shaving basin as a magical, golden helmet and a coarse prostitute as his Dulcinea, and yet dares to dream the impossible dream…
    • It is important that we look into a mirror to see ourselves as we really are and as the community and the world sees us today, but not to be bound by that…
    • Perhaps in the mirror we will catch a glimpse of who we may become if we follow our “impossible” dreams and bring them to reality by working in harmony…
    • Saint Francis of Assisi wrote, “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
  • We will use the flashlight to help us see what lies ahead…
    • I hope we will gather our excitement and our energy to plan boldly for our future… and that we will embrace our future with enthusiasm…
    • In addition to the flashlight, we have our own GPS to guide our journey:
      • G – The guidance of our still speaking God…
      • P – The power of prayer
      • S – The strength of the Holy Spirit
    • During this time of transition we will walk with God and with one another, allowing our faith to lead us forward, and I will encourage you to plan boldly…
    • Our fears may try to hold us back, but it is faith that will prompt us forward.

 

  1.  
  • I don’t usually give homework, but I was told that you are a congregation that appreciates sermons that leave you with something to think about as you walk out the door… therefore I have not one, but three homework assignments for you:
    • Epiphany (Little Christmas, Twelfth Night) is this Wednesday… Epiphany is a Christian festival, observed on January 6th, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the magi, “the three kings” who followed the star to the place where Jesus was… Your first homework assignment is to reflect upon how following the star and discovering the baby Jesus was a new beginning for the wisemen.
    • Your second assignment is to think about this question: If, as a church, we knew we could not fail, what would we boldly undertake? (What is your “impossible dream,” your “bucket list” for the Dennis Union Church?)
    • Your final assignment is a puzzle to be solved – next Sunday’s sermon is titled Ministreeee, spelled with 4 “Es” instead of a “Y” - Ministreeee … The 4 “Es” describe the 4 roles of a minister as I see it. What do you think the 4 “Es” represent?
  • Friends, let us welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been, and the opportunity for a new beginning.
  • “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

 

SERMON SEEDS

  • Temporary Shepherds – Roger S. Nicholson – An Alban Institute Publication - 1998

 

 

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