As the calendar turns from August to September, there is often a bit of melancholy. Labor Day comes and goes. Summer vacations are over. The weather turns colder. The nights get longer. Nonetheless, I don’t find autumn a sad time. In fact, it is my favorite time of the year. That is particularly true this September as I begin my tenure as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Norwalk, Ohio.
Perhaps, it was all those years of schooling, but I have always associated September as the time of beginnings. Maybe I’m weird, but a new spiral notebook and unsharpened yellow pencils inspire optimism in me. Give me a fresh box of 64 Crayons with a built-in sharpener in the side, and I am ready to take on the world. There is something exciting about starting anew.
In the Scriptures we read, “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). This affirmation of God’s faithfulness is given in the context of the writer’s great pain and sorrow. We do not despair because God gives us hope each day. Every day is the first day of school with new adventures and new possibilities.
You heard from the Pastor Nominating Committee about why they believed God was calling us to serve together. Perhaps, you might find it interesting to know why I perceived that calling. It was that sense of hope which drew me to First Presbyterian. Exploring the website, reading the mission study, and talking to church members told me that First Presbyterian has great hope—not in themselves or their pastor, but in the God whose compassions renew every morning.
I see that hopefulness in First Presbyterian Church’s worship. It is vibrant, participatory, and faithful. I see the hopefulness in your small groups ministry. Church members love and disciple one another. I see that hopefulness in your mission and outreach. I am inspired by the individual members of the congregation who bring an entrepreneurial spirit to ministry. People are taking the initiative to bring the gospel to Norwalk and beyond. For these reasons and many more, I am more excited than a schoolboy with a new box of Crayons.
There will be tough times ahead. The church in the United States faces incredible challenges, and we will make plenty of mistakes. Our Crayons will soon get broken, and our brand-new erasers will be all spent, but our hope will not dissipate. The faithfulness of God will prevail where our efforts fall short.
In the coming months, let’s talk about our challenges, and together, let’s find faithful responses. Let’s be a congregation always ready to give an account for the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Grace & Peace,