By Don and Susan Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers
“Do not cling to events of the past
or dwell on what happened long ago.
Watch for the new thing I am going to do.
It is happening already—you can see it now!” Isaiah 43:18-19
I love Christmas, the traditions and Christmas lights and food and decorations. And I love lots of Christmas packages, even if there isn’t anything in them but a little love.
But 2016 was different. All the traditions had to change. We are in a new house and my daughter Leah, my traditionalist, was in Thailand for the holidays and wasn’t around to say, “Mom, it’s time to….” what ever she remembered we should do. For Christmas morning, Leah was gone and my son now has a family of his own so he was in his own home. All very different. But different can invite us to look at traditions and practices with new eyes.
One of our PSWR congregations is getting ready to remodel their sanctuary and since they have a baptistery that was added in after the building was built, it is movable or removable. This congregation has had all of their baptisms of the last few years in the ocean or a pool, so they are wondering why they should keep the baptistery in the sanctuary.
Change gives us the opportunity to look anew at our traditions and practices and remember why we do what we do and remember the meaning. Change gives us the opportunity to renew our commitments and enliven our faith and our faith practices.
As we enter into a New Year (WOW! 2017) we have an opportunity to look anew at our faith life, and what we will re-commit to God. We can look anew at our congregations, and renew our commitments to our fellow parishioners and our actions as a congregation. This is not just a time for New Years resolutions, but also a time for personal renewal in our faith life.
What would happen if we begin to ask these kinds of questions for the New Year….
Why do we have a baptistery in our sanctuary?
Why do we practice a believers baptize by immersion?
Why do we share in communion every week?
Why do we use Hawaiian bread, or a loaf, or wafers?
Why do we serve hot meals to the neighbors?
Why do we give our funds to charities?
Why do we meet on Sunday morning?
Why do we give to Disciple Mission Fund?
Why do we build houses in Tijuana?
Why do we meet in this building?
There are lots of questions we can ask to help us remember who we are before God and what God is calling us, as faithful followers, to do and as a faithful congregation to do.
And friends, we need to change with prayerful intention so we can be the witness for Jesus in today’s world.
We know that many of our congregations are aging and many are closing and sometimes it has been because there was no change, no renewal for the past to 25 - 35 years!
There is a reason there are numerous translations of the Bible, we Christian people speak hundreds of languages. There is a reason we have whole hymnals full of songs for our faith, and whole radio stations and CD stores full of Christian artists, because we have so many different ways to hear God and praise God.
So as we move into this New Year, how shall we ask the questions about our traditions and what they mean before God that will let us be renewed for another year of faithful ministry and a renewed walk with God?
We pray that in this New Year you will find something to change in your faith, not mindlessly, but faithfully as you look at the meaning of what you do and how you act. Blessings for a fruitful and faithful New Year!
Together on the journey,
Don and Susan
Co-Regional Ministers, PSWR