By Rev. Don Dewey and Rev. Susan Gonzales Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers
“I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19a
Driving almost anywhere here in Southern California one can’t help but notice that Spring has arrived! Thanks to all of the early rains we had the mountains and hills are alive with color and as green as they can be! It is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. Even as I walk around my yard, flowers are blooming, roses are budding, bees are buzzing, and hummingbirds are flittering here, there and everywhere!
All of these are the annual signs of nature’s rebirth. It is no wonder that the early Christian communities placed the Resurrection stories of new life in the Spring cycle. Though here in Southern California it is somewhat hard to fully appreciate the warm sunshine of Spring as much as others across the country who endured a harsher winter, we none-the-less welcome the fresh signs of new life emerging around us.
As we travel around our Region, Susan and I are privileged to not only see the beauty of nature coming alive, but we also experience where new life is emerging amongst God’s people. We celebrate the new life happening at South Pasadena Christian Church where a new bilingual Bible Study in Spanish and English is being developed. This congregation is now tri-lingual with English, Korean and Spanish!
We celebrate the new hope growing in our youth and young adult ministries as they take seriously the call to serve and lead in their churches. Recently, many of them participated in an Anti-Racism training designed specifically for them in order that they may be more effective and inclusive in they work to transform our churches and communities.
We give witness to new life happening in congregations that have recently called new pastors who together will create the next chapter in their faithful service: FCC Honolulu who has called Rev. Rae Karim and FCC Burbank who has called Rev. Brandan Johnson.
We also give thanks to pastors recently ordained: Rev. Beth McQuitty and those who celebrate significant years of faithful service: Rev. Bob Bock, 50 years and Pastor Victor Ortega, 30 years!
We are grateful for the work of our Hatchery ministry who just held an amazing two-day retreat with over 30 pastors and leaders attending, becoming Spiritual Entrepreneurs. Learning skills for listening and discerning where God is calling us next in order to continue God’s mission and ministry in the world, and developing new ways of guiding the church in creative and innovative ministries to reach future generations.
Easter is just around the corner and most of our churches will be full or increased as others come seeking to experience and discover new life again. This is a wonderful time in the life of the church to once again celebrate the promise that God has the last word, and that word is LIFE! This is our hope and our joy.
In my office I have a small figurine of Saint Frances of Assisi. It always reminds me of his peace prayer that is familiar to many and so I want to share it here:
Lord, make me an instrument
of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred,
let me sow charity;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
and Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life.
As we continue on our Lenten journey to Easter I hope this will be our prayer. Part of this journey is letting go of those things that keep us from fully experiencing the new life God has for us. May we know this peace and experience the beauty of Spring within anew!
Together on the journey,
Don and Susan