How special this day is…made special by a new Confirmation Class and the service of commitment that brings them and their parents to stand around the Baptismal font, hold a hand over the bowl and receive the water a parent will scoop up and pour from the Baptismal shell. With that pouring, vows made by their parents years ago, will become a sign that those promises will now pass on to them –
to receive the God we know in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and become a member of the family beyond their family, all belonging to Christ, all ages and races,
committed to serve Him by serving one another.
How special this day is…made special by a Pastoral Search Committee soon to stand before us and participate in an act of commitment to their calling to be open to God’s Spirit, working through them to guide them in seeking the next pastor who will be called by the congregation to accept the mantel of service I will have the joy of passing to that person, and ALL of you will have the joy of welcoming.
How special YOU are…each and every one of you for so many reasons, one being that you are a people who qualify this congregation to use a new process called “seamless transition.”
YOU provide the conditions and qualities.
From the beginning being a congregation incorporated to be of, in, and for the community with a Communion Table open to ALL Christians,
a Church School and educational program opened as soon as the building was finished,
a mission vision open to see beyond the four walls of the church,
a building opened to serve everyone, and so, Hendricks building was constructed to be a movie theater for town and campus, and place for all to meet and also attend special events such as a summer Chautauqua program;
and – what is so important - a people who though feisty and argumentative (which some churches and pastors excel in doing) has always worked through any potentially divisive issues…
through being a people open to practicing the counsel read in the Letter of James:
…pray for one another, so that you may be healed.
The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
The practice of prayer Joseph Scriven turned into a poem written the year this building was opened for worship: (1855) ‘What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!”
Prayer as practiced by the Search Committee led to propose a name more than 36 years ago,
prayer that continues every day as members pray for members and names given to them;
prayer that a new Pastoral Search Committee makes its first agenda item.
Every meeting is grounded in prayer and Scripture, and one member is designated to be their chaplain…
with the prayer of all prayers being: “Come, Holy Spirit. Come!”
Now I understand how to answer a question I asked myself after coming to Trinity as a Conference staff member to conduct a workshop and preach the Sunday morning sermon. After the service I stood with the Pastor at the front door to shake hands and exchange the usual after worship greetings, knowing a few who been my professors at Ursinus College.
On the way home I reminisced about that morning. Conference work brought me into most of the congregations; of all of them, Trinity was different. There was a sense of acceptance and openness to one another, of being comfortable in being together. I thought to myself, “There’s something about these people that makes them
special, but what is it?”
Little did I know that a year and a half later I would be called to be the next pastor…and to have the privilege and the joy of growing into the answer. As read in the Letter of James:
The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
In prayer and through prayer a process now begins which, at times is a seemingly endless, assignment to complete what is called a Profile of the Congregation.
Today the Pastoral Search Committee is commissioned to fill in statistical reports and engage the congregation in completing surveys like the one included in the bulletin…with more to come, so that, when all the information and responses are assembled, there will be a Profile, a portrait, a “selfie” showing all the warts and wrinkles, worry lines and scars, yes, but also the inner glow, the God-given beauty that reveals how special YOU are!...
how true to today’s Gospel you are!
“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it?
Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
“Lost its saltiness?” Salt is stable. Moisture can harden it, but, of itself, it stays salt…unless it is contaminated with bugs and birds and animal droppings and dirt and grime from where it is stored. Then it is good for nothing else than tossing out into the street, where in winter climates serves to cut the ice, but also eats through concrete and iron.
‘Have salt in yourselves” the seasoning salt of peace…the pure salt of the seasoning life of Christ which He pours into the salt shaker of our lives.
The story is told of a king who asked his three daughters how much they loved him. The oldest one said more than all the gold in the world; the second, more than all the silver in the world; the youngest said she loved her father more than all the salt in the world. He was more than hurt, even angered, by that answer.
The cook had overheard it all. That night he served a banquet-like meal. It looked good but tasted terrible. The cook left out the salt. The king understood what his youngest daughter meant. He realized the value of salt. ( King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com )
From today on, I will hold to the pledge to commit to the pastoral ministry among you, while Pastoral Search Committee and congregation commit to discovering how “salty” you – the saltiness of Christ in you, what makes YOU so special, the “special-ness” you will work to define and make a gift to the one God’s Spirit will lead you to call.
Then I will pass on what was passed to me…the joy of discovering how special YOU are! AMEN.