I appreciate this church’s long history of worship, mission work and communitybuilding. I’ve observed the volunteer leaders working well together and I’m thankful that you're accepting my pastoral leadership. As I have been learning about this church, I have also been grateful for the many reminders, “You can’t please everyone — try to find balance.”
I’ve heard about preferences regarding how to pray the Lord’s Prayer, the style of worship music and various translations of the Bible. I’m happy to try to find a balance between your opinions because these are the ways that you’ve found you best connect with God. I also value your openness to each other’s preferences. Even our 6th-8th graders recognize the benefit of selflessness. Last month in Sunday School, they decided to “not be ‘me-centered’” and to “respect, honor, and help each other in every way.”
I am reminded of a man in another congregation who regularly attended worship in spite of detesting the music. Not wanting to offend the priest, this man chose to sit behind a column in order to hide his looks of displeasure during worship. But one day he realized that the music he disliked was resonating with the woman across the aisle. Instead of being annoyed by the lyrics and tempo, she was swaying to the music and singing with her eyes closed. Suddenly this man could find value in the worship music because he recognized that it helped someone else connect with God.
The Gospel of Luke describes Jesus’ disciples getting into a tense argument when they each thought they were better than the rest. Jesus responded by inviting a child to sit next to him and explained, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest” (Luke 9:46-48).
This type of inclusive hospitality helps us turn the focus from ourselves to our mission to enthusiastically share God’s love in response to human needs, hurts and hopes.
This month, you may notice more children in worship. On World Communion Sunday, we’re going to invite them to join us at God’s Table for Communion. Then on October 14th, youth are going to lead a Children’s Sabbath Service. As wewelcome the children in Jesus’ name, I look forward to providing opportunities for all of us to encounter Jesus, experience God’s love, and be motivated to share it.
May God bless you with joy and peace this month.