For those who may not know, our church, Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church in Southern Michigan, entered a season of transition last Spring when the church’s long-time senior pastor accepted a call to another ministry. In a season of transition, we have learned that anything can happen. It is a season of waiting and preparation, of forgetting what lies behind and dreaming of what is to come. It is a time of new challenges and new opportunities. In a season of transition, there are often difficult decisions that need to be made, and this season is no different. It was with a heavy heart that the church’s Transition Team Leader and Executive Pastor of Operations, along with the Board of Ministry, took a serious look at the finances of the church with the intent of creating a balanced budget for 2019. As a result, several church ministries and staff positions were affected, including the Worship Arts Ministry.
Last Wednesday Night at the Bridge Worship and Prayer service, I took the night off from standing behind the guitar and stepped behind the lectern to talk about something very close to my heart: worship. But it’s really all the same, whether it’s a guitar or a lectern. You see, my job is to help people connect to the Father and then step out of the way, giving them an opportunity for intimacy. So, why is intimacy with God so important?
We spent the last 10 days of January 2017 contacting every one on the Creative Arts team at First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, writing letters to church members and other area pastors and vendors, sending emails to everyone else we thought needed to know about our decision to leave FPCB. When all that was complete, B felt he needed to let the rest of the world know. There had already been a lot of questions and phone calls. Word spread quickly…
Last night we observed Ash Wednesday, which marked the beginning of the season of Lent. Most people believe that Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter, is about giving things up, but there is so much more than that. Scholars believe that Lent’s original intent was for new Christians preparing for baptism on Easter. In the earliest days of the church, a strict fast would be observed for only a few days leading up to Easter, but in 325 AD, the Council of Nicea discussed a 40-day Lenten season of fasting that was soon embraced by the whole church as a way to journey with those preparing for baptism and as a way to renew their own faith. Later, the 40-day Lent journey was geared toward restoring those who had grievously sinned back into the church community.
About two years ago, my wife, Kat and I entered a season of prayer—specifically seeking God’s direction for First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem and for our family. We were confident that God asked us to stay through FPCB’s season of denominational discernment and the transition of a new senior pastor. Then, as our church moved into a brand new season with a new denomination and staffing changes, we continued to pray for all of us, and I asked God once again if I am still called to serve at FPC Bethlehem. It has been through much prayer and fasting that we are confident that God is asking us to transition.
In February of 2006 we could feel that our time of ministry at our local church in Kirkland, Washington was coming to an end. When we received the call to serve in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania we began to wonder how it made any sense. We did not have any family or friends in the Lehigh Valley or surrounding states. We felt a little like Abraham when he was asked to pick up and move everything.
We constantly hear that people don’t like change, yet when I look around change is constant. From the moment we are born there is change, every day, every moment. We don’t resist it. In fact, we embrace it. We are reliant on others for everything. We are at their mercy. We know nothing of idleness or control. I believe this is why Jesus Christ often refers to children in His stories.
The question is, does Musikfest promote the common good? The festival engages the community and fosters a sense of pride. Nearly 1 million people attend the festival annually, and it takes 2,000 volunteers to help the festival run smoothly. For our Sunday morning appearance alone, we average 1100 people in attendance and take some 100 volunteers from FPC Bethlehem, who transport and set up gear, arrange chairs, pass out water bottles, and welcome people.
AND IN SPITE OF what we believe to be logical or even understand, God opened a door for this ministry in Central America. We never would have thought Central America would be a safer place to travel than India. Along with the original India festival team, we made our way to the small war-torn and earthquake-damaged Central American country of El Salvador with MSI at the end of March where we were greeted warmly and saw unprecedented crowds converge on the crusade grounds…