This has been an exciting week at Grace UMC! This past Sunday I had the opportunity to share in the sacrament of Holy Communion with the congregation for the first time. During the week I met with several of the church committees and leaders and also had several good conversations, Bible studies, and social opportunities to visit members of Grace. I made a couple of hospital calls and did worship planning for the month of August.
The first weeks and months at a new church are always a time of “getting to know you.” It is a time when the congregation begins to become acquainted with me, my preaching, my ministry style, and over time my leadership style. It is a time when we begin to forge our first relationship and friendship with church family, staff, and colleagues.
It is also a time when my family and I are exploring a new city, creating new daily habits and routines, and finding that was at first unfamiliar begins to become familiar and eventually comfortable in time.
Of course building a ministry and a working relationship with a congregation is a work of months and years. And I am looking forward to the years ahead! I shared in the August newsletter article that this year will be a year of anticipation for me. I will be anticipating a series of firsts together. Our first fall, first Thanksgiving, and first Advent and Christmas seasons are holy days and seasons I am looking forward to sharing. It will be a year of firsts for all of us as we minister together.
As we remember first times in our lives, we also hope to be a church that helps other people have their first or continued experiences with Christ. This past Sunday I preached about the joys and dangers of for many of us of having known Christ for most of our lives.
I am one of those Christians who has been in the church my whole life. I cannot remember not being in God’s house regularly. I can’t remember not worshipping most every Sunday. I can’t remember any other way of living. So it is easy to take the joys of a that relationship and that pattern of life for granted. We forget that many are still out there who haven’t experienced the community we’ve experienced, haven’t experienced the belonging we’ve experienced and haven’t experienced the Christ we’ve experienced.
It is exciting to build new relationships in the church. But it can be even more exciting to help those who have not felt welcomed into God’s house to experience the new joys of a relationship with God and God’s people.
This year I’d like to make “getting to know you” both a metaphor for what I’m doing at Grace UMC and for what I hope Grace UMC can do and continue to do even more effectively in the Morningside and Sioux City community.