Friday, September 13, 2013

Stories, part 1

We are nearly three weeks into our ministry in New Mexico.  We have been warmly welcomed by the members of our new congregation, the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church.  We feel fairly well settled into our home, the church parsonage.  Kat is making new friends and we are learning our way around the community, both geographically and in terms of the activities that are available to us.  And, perhaps most importantly to me, I am growing into my new role as the church's pastor.

There is a lot to learn.  Some things I learned in seminary.  Others I learned through the things I did at my old church in Rochester.  Some I have learned from friends in ministry and some other things through searching out the answers myself.  The other day I fixed a toilet at the church with a paper clip...something I figured out completely on my own! 

And there are other things I am sorting out in ways that seem to work and meet my needs at the moment.  One of those things is going to the church on Friday morning and running through the worship service for Sunday.

I preach the sermon to a collection of empty pews and then go through all the other parts of the service except the sermon.  I practice the call to worship, confession and assurance of forgiveness, anointing and healing prayer, the songs and the benediction.  The songs are particularly important, because right now the only musical accompaniment is Robin on her flute, so I have to have an idea of the melody and be able to stay on it fairly well throughout each song.

So I sing aloud through each piece, and as I did so this Friday I slowly paced back-and-forth across the front of the church.  And as I paced I began to notice the floor.

The church was built in 1914, with adobe walls and hardwood floors.  As you may see in the picture, those floors have a lot of wear.  Looking at the floor and seeing the wear I began to wonder about the stories the floor would have, could floors talk that is.

Stories of the rich ministry that has preceded our service here.  Songs.  Sermons.  Baptisms.  Funerals.  Gatherings around the Lord's Table.  Fellowship.  And much prayer.

Stories of the faithful witness of several generations of God's people, gathered in the name of Jesus.

It is a privilege to walk those floors and know that we are taking part in the ongoing work of God here in Dulce.  It is a privilege to be adding here, in this space and with these people, to the stories that are part of the greatest story, the story of redemption in Christ Jesus.

"And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  Philippians 2:8-11

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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