Chip’s Newsletter Article January 2012

Our journey through Advent and Christmas set the course of our ministry in 2012. The way of hope, peace, joy and love takes us into the neighborhoods of our lives to meet Christ in the people and situations we encounter there. We do not simply celebrate one day – Christmas – but we celebrate the message of Christmas all year long – the good news that God is with us and goes with us as we begin a new year of life and of life together in ministry. I appreciate all the feedback, stories, and insights from our Advent journey. From simple moments to experiences of healing and wholeness at our Longest Night Service, God was clearly at work in you all. Thank you for showing me your compasses along the way. I hope they continue to be a good reminder of the journey we are on to follow God’s Way.

At the end of December, I watched the Kennedy Center Honors. One of the five honorees was the wonderfully talented cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Stephen Colbert and others celebrated his skill at playing the cello in so many different genres of music. “Every day,” Ma said, “I make an effort to go toward what I don’t understand.” Instead of confining his talents to one style of music, Ma sought to understand music in all its expressions, from classical to blues to folk to world sounds. He even formed a traveling group of musicians named The Silk Road which journeys around the world and back in time to engage music in all its varied forms. “I’m not brave,” he said. “I’m actually pretty scared a lot of the time. But, I must like being scared because I keep doing things that scare me.”

The Kennedy Center Honors celebrated Yo-Yo Ma’s work for its rich sound, but it also celebrated the path Ma took to become the accomplished musician he is. He doesn’t simply stay where music is comfortable. He travels beyond the edges of what he knows and understands. He doesn’t simply peer into those places as a tourist. He makes a pilgrimage into the unknown to learn and make music there. He keeps doing the things that scare him so that his music is fresh, expansive and daring.

In Yo-Yo Ma’s words, music and journey, I hear something for us to consider as we embark on a new year of life and ministry together in 2012. What ruts of comfort are we stuck in that keep us from healing and wholeness in our lives, from following God’s will for us and for our church, from fresh and daring new ministry that may even be scary? Where are the edges of our lives that we can step beyond to grow more faithfully into the people God wants us to be?

In my experience as your pastor, I sense that we are in a time of new beginnings. I am looking forward to the retreats with the elders and deacons to discern where God is leading us after these first two years together and all that we have done. I am hoping that they and our entire congregation will discern ways to grow our faith, our outreach, our care for one another, our music, our membership, and our connections to the community in ways that are faithful in the midst of a new world of technology, busy lives, economic concerns, even the transitions that are happening in our membership. I am praying that we will have the courage to go beyond the edges of what we know and understand and to journey into new ways of hope, peace, joy and love where we will find Christ along the way.

Thank you for another year of wonderful ministry. Thank for your care, for your faithfulness, for your offerings in 2011 and your financial commitment to 2012. Thank you to our outgoing elders and deacons, to our teachers, to Barbara Darragh for 18 years of ministry in the office and to Jose and Kim, to all of musicians, to our commissions and committees for their ministry in/to/through our building and well beyond. Thank you for all that was done to prepare us for God’s way in 2012.

Happy New Year!