What I am sharing with you from the heart this morning is not my own writing, but rather my agreeing whole-heartedly with the writings of Rev. Dr. Paul Nixon. While these are Dr. Nixon's original words, I have added a couple of personal notes to his essay, and my heart resonates with his sentiment... as I hope yours does, too... Also, a special thanks to Dr. James Lumsden of the First Congregational Church (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts for also reflecting Dr. Nixon's words on his church's homepage.
As we continue to walk together along the road that God has set before us, and in keeping with the words of Joshua, “Choose this day whom you will serve… “ I add my voice to his, and declare that as Pastor, I am committed to:
- Choose Life: too many congregations are afraid to die so they will not risk finding new life. My promise to you is that I will also look for signs of life and vitality within and among—and push you to do likewise—because we are a resurrection people.
- Choose Community: we are in this together—pastor, people, adults and children—and we cannot make it in the 21st century “high tech” world without a “high tech” community of support and accountability. My goal at First Church is to do everything I can to break down barriers between people so that we can be servants of compassion to one another.
- Choose Fun: I hate being bored—but more than boredom I hate anything that robs life of its joy and blessing—so I look for every opportunity for fun. Church meetings don’t have to be a drag if you are thinking creatively. What’s more, all of the hard work of loving one another as Christ to the world can be filled with joy. “Are you tired, worn out and burned out on religion? Come with me…and I will show you the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 11)
- Choose Boldness: in the hard work of church renewal there is no such thing as going slow! Some folk will never want to make the changes necessary for depth and new growth; some will always be afraid, too. That is why I have adopted the AA slogan, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got!” And for many congregations, what we’ve always got is diminished numbers, a loss of vitality, and confusion—so I will always choose being bold every time.
- Choose the Frontier: I will always choose going where no one has gone before, too. Churches do not experience renewal, hope and vitality going backwards or retreating. I love the edges and will encourage you to join me in seeking them out.
- Choose Now: when God was asked to share the Divine Name, the One Who is Holy said, “I am who I am.” That is, I am the Lord of Creation in the present moment: the past is gone and the future is not in your command. All you can do is to live and love in the present. I value tradition but am not enslaved to its legacy. I trust that God will be with us into the future, but I have no control over it. So all I can do is live faithfully at this moment—and that is what will guide my leadership among you as I continue to serve as the settled pastor and teacher here at First Congregational Church.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth P. Beres
Pastor and Teacher
P.S.; Also, I offer a note of apology... in originally posting this note, I thought I had properly cited the works of Dr. Nixon here... I will humbly ask you for your forgiveness, and personally chalk it up to what happens when one writes a blog before he or she has had his first cuppa coffee... at 5 a.m.