Nature gives us so many wonderful ways to think about faith and life. Thanks to the Gardeners of Eden, the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows of the lilies outside the church office welcome us to church. The flowers, shrubs and trees around our church property and the ways in which nature’s beauty is surrounding our prayer garden and labyrinth are all signs of nature’s desire to grow and share life with us and reminders of the power of prayer in those places. They are also witnesses to the life which has been cultivated by many gifted gardeners.

While summer may be a slower time in our program year, the work to cultivate faith, outreach, hope and justice continues. Vacation Bible School will invite children and youth to discover their strength in God. Two teams will travel on service-learning trips to Maryland and the Dominican Republic to work on a variety of projects, to learn about issues of concern in those areas and then to come back with eyes more open to ways in which we may faithfully serve God in our community. We are supporting children and youth who want to attend summer camp at Holmes Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center. Even our Silent Samaritan Fund has been tapped to support families in need. Plus, we continue to feed the hungry and host many community groups that promote healing and wholeness. All of these are signs that God continues to cultivate life in us and through us as we worship our Creator and grow in faith and ministry together.

Like nature’s display of life, there is so much life to celebrate in our ministry. It seems appropriate that we would return to our Stewardship theme on Sunday, July 9 and celebrate the many ways our ministry and our lives have been and continue to be fruitful. “Fruitful” is a very helpful way to understand that God intends to grow life in us and to share that life with the community and far beyond. The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20) celebrates this and says that there is only one faithful outcome. When the seed of faith finds “good soil”, we “hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

At the same time, it is important to discern what God wants to do next in us and through us. To that end, the Session has created a Ministry Development Team to be in conversation with our congregation. How do we build on the good work and ministry that we are doing? What is emerging from the energy and passion of our ministry together that needs our further support and encouragement? What is waiting to be born next in our ministry? These questions invite us into the future God has for us and believe that our participation in conversation, prayer, and discernment together will reveal God’s next steps for our life and ministry together. So, please look for opportunities to meet with the Ministry Development Team.

Throughout this summer, I pray that God will cultivate the new life of Christ in you as you rest and enjoy time with family, as you join in worship and service, as you travel and stay home. May you discover the new life God has offered us in Jesus Christ and may that life show through you for others to see and enjoy.

In Christ, Chip