A beginnings is the point in time or space at which something starts – noun
New or inexperienced – adjective
Your new beginning walked into your lives last Sunday. Getting to meet Vette was a wonderful experience! The way she connected with wit and warmth moved us into a place of promise and grace. She now has a place to live and as we talk to one another her excitement about coming here is palatable.
As we have discussed before we cannot make a new beginning without letting go of the things we no longer need. To see all of you interact with her and see connections forming as soon as you talked gave me such peace. As your pastor I feel a sense of responsibility for your well-being and the well being of the church and it is so great to feel like I can pass that mantle to Vette.
I really like what Bridges says about beginnings. “The lesson in all experiences that when we are ready to make a new beginning, we will shortly find an opportunity.” It is reminiscent of the scripture from Matthew 7: Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. When we are ready the beginning will come. But how hard it is to wait. I know that I have made a number of you uncomfortable with these sermons on transition, and that’s just what intended.
The changes that we are experiencing as a church are uncomfortable but examining how transitions work should help us better understand them and be ready for the new beginning. I am also hoping that by looking at transitions it has helped us examine our own personal endings, in-between times and beginnings. We know that things change and sometimes the changes we experience are not what we wanted.
I have always been able to drive all alone for hours and hours. I didn’t get sleepy or bored or scared I really mostly enjoyed it. When attending Iliff I would drive from Denver to Tucson in one day, sure I was exhausted but I always made it safely. That ability has ended. After driving home from Tucson a couple of weeks ago, when I hit Walsenburg I was not sure I could drive the last 63 miles. Obviously I did, but never again. I was as fried as the Kentucky fried chicken I stopped to get.
I hate to think that my age is causing me to have to put an end to what I have always done; yet our endings are what create our new beginnings. I am grateful that I have learned to appreciate my inability before I had or created an accident. When our endings make us sad, or mad or just cranky they also enable us to find a new way of doing things, even if it is more diminished than we would like.
CUMC’s new beginning comes in the form of a dynamic, funny, spirit filled person named Pastor Vette. But our personal new beginnings sometimes come to us in a dream, or in our quiet time with God. Mine often come in the shower. God times come when we have tuned out the rest of the world and are open to the possibilities of new ideas.
Our new starts can also be in the form of other people’s comments about us. Others can sometimes see what a solution or new direction could be before we see it ourselves. It may be a comment that we just nod our head to our even ignore but may come back to us again and again until we take some time to examine it. Genuine beginnings depend upon this kind of inner realignment rather than on external shifts, for when we are aligned with our deep longings then we become powerfully motivated.
It is important to distinguish between a real new beginning and a simple defensive reaction to an ending. So back to my no longer being able to drive 15 hours straight, I am now forced to stop half way! My first concession to my ending is to stay the night with Sharon Langfeld on my journey to Bozeman. She is almost exactly half way, and not only will this be safer, but how wonderful to be with her and see the Churches she serves.
Once the new beginning starts there are several things that can enhance the process. The first is to stop getting ready and simply act. When we spend too much time on getting ready we delay the beginning. Are you positive that you will welcome Vette as your new pastor and be supportive of her ministry? Yes of course you are. And come July 3, together you will begin this journey.
I would like to remind you that you have done this kind of thing before. When Steve was your pastor you had a well-seasoned and respected pastor, one with lots of experience and expertise. With me you got a newbie, first time out of the box pastor. Your love, help and support turned me into an experienced pastor. CUMC now has the reputation in the conference of being a place that helps the newly graduated become a pastor. That’s how you engaged with me as your new pastor.
The second thing to do is to begin to identify with the result of the new beginning. This is where you visualize what is going to happen has happened. It is imagining that Pastor Vette is here, preaching, teaching, counseling and being in fellowship. As you imagine it feels real and comfortable. This is the dreaming part and the time to allow us to feel excited. It’s when we remember a plan that became a wonderful reality. It incorporates our faith that this new beginning is a part of what God is doing at CUMC.
The third thing we can do is not to expect this new beginning to be completely smooth. Seriously when does anything valuable not have a bit of messiness to it? Remember making decorated cookies with your kids and grandkids, its messy. The complicated parts of the new beginning give it meaning. Working together to solve any issues connects you to the new beginning and creates the investment we need for it to really happen! It’s saying as individual and as the church, I’m in this ,we are committed to this wonderful new beginning!
Finally we all need to remind ourselves that beginnings come from the wonderful parts of our past. You are the church, this is the church and what we have been doing in the community will continue to be the church. We build our new things on the old, the loved, the treasured things of our past.
And of course we have God. In Isaiah the prophet tells the people to forget the former actions of God. God is about to do a new thing: it springs forth, do your not perceive it? God is promising Israel to always be present. It is a repetition of the exodus tradition, where God provides for the people, geographically and spiritually. It springs forth as in the way that water surfaces and it will make a way in the wilderness and create rivers in the desert. So in a wilderness place God provides a new beginning.
In 2nd Corinthians Paul is speaking about how belief in Christ creates a new thing. If one is in Christ he or she is a new creation. Here it isn’t about geographical or community deliverance but a very personal new beginning. The old that is ending is the way people believed and followed God before Jesus came into the world. Jesus ushered in a new and personal way to be in relationship with God. It is not the denial of the tradition of the Jewish religion rather that the old has become new. There was an ending, when Jesus came to fulfill the law and the beginning, the new life in Christ is what is offered for those that believe.
Many people have asked me If I am scared of moving, of going far away and most especially of pasturing a very big church. The answer is yes, but I am only afraid when I think I am doing theses things alone. I have a church full of people that I hope are excited to join me in this mew ministry. And I have God. Our God is at work in the ending, the in-between and now in this new beginning I am comforted and assured.
In the same light when I think of leaving you, I want all to be well. Here again I know that God will work through Vette and all of you to continue and enrich your worship, outreach and fellowship.
This is the day of new beginnings, let us rejoice and give thanks! amen.