Friday, September 5, 2014

Heading into the Unknown

         During worship, on my last Sunday before leaving for vacation, I preached a sermon on one of my all-time favorite stories from the Bible.  Now I don’t know if I love it so much because it was the very first text I had to translate and write a paper on when I was in Seminary, or, because I just like all of the action and imagery that takes place within it. Regardless of my reasons for enjoying the tale of Peter walking on the water, I think the idea that we are called to step out into the unknown is going to be our theme for our congregation this fall and beyond.
             I strongly believe that we need to do a number of things here at Dekorra to help us grow, and I’m not just talking about increasing the number of people we have sitting in the pews. I firmly believe we have some work to do in order for this to occur such as: educating our members to be active disciples who are inviting others to join us in learning about what it means to have faith in Jesus, and being willing to make some changes in order to be a more welcoming and inviting church to new comers.
            One of the biggest challenges that we have to deal with when we are faced with change, or doing things differently, is our inherent ability to think only of ourselves and what we want or don’t want.  It can be difficult for us to alter this mindset because we live in a society that is so consumer driven that it teaches us to be selfish and to believe in the false reality that we are the only ones that matter.  And yet, the God in which we confess to believe in taught us through his Son that we are called to love and serve others.
In order for us to be successful at doing this we can continually use the story of Peter’s adventure out on the stormy sea as a reminder that we are to keep our eyes and our focus on Jesus.  What happens when Peter gets distracted by the waves and the billowing weather? What happens when he looks away from Jesus? Not surprising, the man who Jesus calls the Rock begins to sink into the water and he needs to be saved. The good news is that our Lord and Savior is always there to lift us up and to carry us so we don’t need to worry about drowning when we are faced with having to make some changes, when we are called to step out of the boat into the unknown such as: modernizing worship so that it might be a little more welcoming to newcomers who haven’t grown up in the church.
Starting in September it is my hope that we can try out a blended worship experience at the 10:30am service. By blended I mean that the service will have some contemporary music, along with a traditional hymn or two, and it will be somewhat less liturgical. It is my hope that having a more kid friendly service will encourage our Sunday school students and their parents to stay for worship after Sunday school lets out.  If you were able to help with Vacation bible school you would have witnessed firsthand how excited the children can get to praise God when they get to sing songs that appeal to them. How cool would it be to be able to sing some classic songs from when we were kids during worship like the B.I.B.L.E, Our God is an Awesome God, or He’s got the Whole World in his Hands?
As change comes our way let us each try to remember to keep our eyes focused on Christ and on God’s will and desire for our congregation. We must never forget that we are all part of something that is bigger than our wants, our needs, our likes and our dislikes. Our Lord and Savior is inviting us to join him, to walk out into unknown waters and we don’t need to worry because if we concentrate our attention on him he will be there to carry us and lift us up through the good and bad weather.

                                                       Blessings to you all as we head into Fall,

                                                       Pastor Ryan

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