I must begin by saying I am in awe of the overflowing welcome I have received from this congregation. On the weekend of my candidating sermon you were a warm and enthusiastic crowd both at the Saturday afternoon “meet and greet,” and then on Sunday with a expeditious and enthusiastic congregational vote affirming the recommendation of the Search Committee. I also feel welcomed by the extensive preparations and refurbishing of the parsonage; it is beautiful. See picture below. (I sent pictures to my daughter, Mariah, and she was amazed as well…and she is not a stranger to parsonage living!) And the “cherry on top” was seeing my name on the sign out front. I feel the energy in this place and believe we are ready to begin a new ministry together. I am very excited to begin.
I am also looking forward to meeting you all and hearing your stories and getting to know you. I have no question that God has called us together to be partners, ministering in Jesus’ name. To this purpose, I understand our work together as a call to witness to the love and power of God to make all things new, to be a beacon of hope amidst the darkest of nights, and to be a healing presence and force for reconciliation. As your pastor I am in your midst to teach and lead, and learn and follow.
I pray that we will develop a dynamic shared ministry, working side by side. I pray that we will embody the love of God for one another; that we will be vessels of God’s healing for one another; that we will bear God’s grace, even be the face of Christ for one another and the stranger who comes into our midst.
I have much to learn over the next few months and I hope you will feel comfortable guiding me and correcting me as necessary. You’ll probably find that I will be a different kind of minister than you have experienced in the past. Hopefully you will be encouraged in your faith and spiritual walk by the “newness” I bring. And I know that I will become a new person as I live amongst you. This is God’s doing, and I trust it will be marvelous in our eyes.
As we enter the season of Advent, the season of new birth, may we watching and waiting with expectation for what God will bring to birth in us. How will Christ be born again in us this Christmas?
Blessings of peace
(We are excited about the prospect of a Children’s Story every week with Rev. Gil.)
© First Church of Christ, Congregational United Church of Christ
2521 White Mountain Highway, PO Box 401, North Conway, NH 03860-0401 (603) 356-2324