From The Pastor's Desk
Smiles, Frowns and Tears
There are three markers that show what is important to a person. The first marker is the smile. Mention a subject or a name that is important to someone and watch them smile. The fondness for the subject or person brings a smile, like the mention of ice cream to a child. The smile gives you away, but that is okay. A smile can happen because of music, a truth, a promise, a memory, a picture, a word, or the simple call of your name by a familiar voice? Have you smiled lately?
The second way you know what is important to a person is oddly enough the opposite of a smile. It is an angry frown. The frown is a defensive reaction, especially around values issues, the way things should be, in your mind. Mention a certain subject, like politics or economics, or to certain children that school is starting soon, and it may bring a frown. I have to admit there are issues that make me frown at times. What or who have you frowned about lately?
The third marker is tears. There are tears of joy around people or events that probably also brought on a smile. Then there are tears of sadness that reflect a form of grief due to a loss in your life, whether real, perceived, or anticipated. Even Jesus wept at the pain of Mary and Martha in their loss, over anticipated loss for Jerusalem, and for the world affected deeply by sin in the garden of Gethsem-ane. Has someone, a personal experience, or a world event made you cry lately?
The next obvious question is, which do you find yourself doing the most lately?
Is it smiling, frowning or crying?
Now, as I mention the word church, what is your reaction? Be honest. I would like to think it brings a smile as you think of the love and mercy of Christ, the sweet fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ, or the joy of new believers, but I know that is not true for all people. Mention the future of the church and your reaction may be different. There are a wide variety of expectations in the word church. There is even confusion still over whether church is a people, a place, or an institution. It is interesting that very few, if any, are neutral over the word church.
That is why you have been hearing about Re-Visioning for our congregation for several months. In previous business meetings we voted to enter into a re-visioning process, looking at what is im-portant to us, who God has made us - our uniqueness as a congregation, and to seek his will, and direction for Newington's future. It took a little time to find the right coach for this process, but now we have Ken Kessler, the leader of the Empowering Leaders Team, of Virginia Baptists to work with us, a survey tool to use, and dates for the process. See more details about how you can participate under a separate article simply called Re-Visioning for Newington Baptist.
Evaluations and making changes are not always my favorite subjects. Did I sense a frown from you too? But, for me the thought of time spent with God in prayer, with each other telling stories and having conversations, and of reaching unity around a fresh vision from God for our future brings a smile. I hope it does for you too. A trip isn't always my favorite, but the thought of arriving at a destination keeps me going. Ready for a faith road trip? Are we there yet?