Dear Friends at St. John’s,
One of the discoveries I have made about St. John’s during the last few weeks is the inscription I mentioned in my sermon last Sunday over the Parish House door: “SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”
In the sermon last Sunday, I called this an ongoing mission statement for the church. In fact, it would make a great mission statement for EVERY congregation. I surmise that at some point in the congregation’s history, someone thought it should be engraved for all who enter the congregation’s building to serve.
Unfortunately, many people think they are planning for the next life when they encounter these words. However, as you consider Jesus’ words in the Gospels, he indicates that the Kingdom of God is NOW and not just in the future. When we seek the Kingdom of God, we are simply living in the gift of our baptism—in the knowledge that God has chosen us to serve.
How our serving plays out in this life varies with each of us as individuals. Further, our serving together as a congregation helps to define our ministry in this community.
When the pastor leaves service in a specific congregation, issues of God’s Kingdom are often disrupted. Ministries people take for granted often seem as if they are stymied. Or worse, they simply disappear.
Sometimes these disruptions cause people in congregations a sense of anxiety and even despair. Yet, as God’s people, we at St. John’s should remember the words above the door: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”
To me, just hearing these words offers us a calming influence. As we repeat them to ourselves, we are also praying them as God’s people. Focusing on the Kingdom of God, helps us to move into a new future with new pastoral leadership that has not yet unfolded for this congregation.
In other words, while some things might change going forward, we continue to live together as God’s people. God is with us always and knowing that message alone should enable us to ease our anxieties regarding the future of the congregation.
Further, this congregation has maintained a strong ministry for 280 years (and longer if you count the time before organization). God has truly blessed us in this longevity. As your interim pastor, I look forward to getting to know you as fellow workers in God’s Kingdom and to becoming a part of this very distinguished history in our Lord’s service. May God bless our efforts together during the next few months as together we live and serve in the continual task of seeking the Kingdom of God. Karen and I look forward to joining you in this effort.
Peace in Christ,