It is January 1, 2014. 2013 has come and gone. Each of us can look back at the year that just transpired, and we may find that it was full of blessings or perhaps multiple challenges. For me 2013 was a good year -- after all I spent three months on sabbatical and in the course of that sojourn had the opportunity to visit England for the first time. The trip to England was a dream come true. I also saw two new books published -- Unfettered Spirit: Spiritual Gifts for the New Great Awakening and Worshiping with Charles Darwin (both from Energion Publications). I can't forget that Cheryl and I celebrated thirty years of marriage. Of course, I continue my service as pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church (I'm now in my sixth year and counting), a ministry to which I continue to feel called.
As I look forward into the future, I should note that I'm not one to make resolutions or predictions. But, fresh off my three month sabbatical, I anticipate a fruitful year of ministry at Central Woodward and in the broader community. One of the reasons I chose to accept the call to Central Woodward was that the search committee recognized my calling to public ministry. I'm still learning what that means, but at this moment it is being expressed through this blog, my writing, and through my leadership in the Metro Coalition of Congregations and Convener of the Troy-area Interfaith Group. There are a couple of weddings in the congregation that I'm looking forward to officiating at, and one of our young adults will finish seminary and thus I will have the opportunity to preside at her ordination. Brett starts a new chapter as a student at Rochester College and Cheryl is busy with her new job at the Troy Public Library. Oh, and Energion will be publishing two small books on the Eucharist and Biblical Inspiration (in relationship to Karl Barth's understanding of the Word of God).
The word that I take into 2014 is one that was given to me by a seminary president and denominational leader I hold in high regard. I was reflecting on the fact that my friend and college schoolmate Glen Miles had been elected Moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). His word to me was this: "Yes, you are now the grown ups." Simply reaching my mid-fifties doesn't in and of itself provide spiritual maturity, but this word pressed on me a new sense of responsibility. It is time to step up to the plate and provide the leadership that is expected of me. My time as a bank bencher is over!
I'm still moving toward maturity, but I am hearing the call to help others move toward that maturity that is to be found in Christ. The passage of Scripture that I shall take to hear this year comes from Ephesians 4:11-14:
11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.
I will pray for wisdom as I pursue this upward call of God. Perhaps you would join me in that journey and in that prayer.
Now, as a way of looking back at the year past, Google has found a way of turning some of my pictures from this past year and turning them into a quick little video. Here are just a few places I've been this past, very eventful year.