From the Pastor – Summer 2022

Most of the time, my newsletter contribution speaks to what is ahead. Most of the other articles in an issue of The Tidings do the same. Not only is such a directional focus appropriate for a body of faith as calendars start to fill-up again, but there is Scriptural encouragement to do that as well. The Apostle Paul once described such a priority in his own life as he wrote to believers that, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  In many and familiar ways, this summer issue of our quarterly communication tool will model that pattern again.   

            Yet it was a few years ago that a retired Presbyterian minister shared with me how in the congregations he served there came a realization that they had done a great job of looking ahead, but not so well in stopping to celebrate what had occurred. That they had so faithfully focused on what awaited, that only rarely did they pause to tell the result of those events. Thus, he resolved to balance that focus in their publications and stop to give thanks for what had happened.  

            As an unrepentant planner (an overwhelming J on the Myers-Briggs tool) his words rang true for me. One of the most challenging aspects of the Covid era for this pastor was the inability to plan out very far as conditions kept changing and kept requiring yet another adaptation.  Our amazing staff continued to adjust in ways that inspired me, yet thankfully, we are mostly at a place of being able to look ahead again. Even so, in my words here, rather than speak of future events at DPC, I want to stop and name some moments of the recent past that fed my spirit.

            It happened on that Sunday when a growing buzz arose in our sanctuary during a congregational meeting as laughter and conversation filled the room again while ballots were being counted. It occurred in a Growth Group over Zoom as participants from four states shared their questions and convictions, heartaches and hopes. It happened as we welcomed homeless guests into our building once more, experienced life-giving concerts and shared in our first indoor meal. The menu? Appropriately, it was Soul Food! I felt it on Palm Sunday as the Sunshine Singers again led the procession and on Easter as more than 1100 joined us in-person or online, as an ever-growing number of little ones come forward for their message and during a lunch when your Deacons and Ruling Elders shared stories of how their service had blessed them. It occurred on Youth Sunday when teens led us from the chancel and their home, and it happened as 75 of you gathered for the powerful first-hand account of a 90-year old survivor of the Holocaust. All of those moments and countless more happened during the first five months of this year in our church and before we move ahead to what awaits, I need to stop and give thanks.

            How about you? What are the occasions of recent months that have fed your spirit?  It might have been that moment you saw a fellow member in person for the first time in three years. It could have been feeling the rumble of the organ once more as you sat in your favorite pew. It might have been that hug at Sacred Grounds or the laughter as you prepared the Community Meal, when you met for the first-time someone you had only known from an online meeting or when you heard a glorious anthem reverberate off the church walls.    

            All of those moments and the others like them reveal our growing re-emergence from a long season of separation and thus are glimpses of how far we have come. Certainly, there will be a time again to look ahead and the rest of this newsletter will invite you to do just that, but in this moment, as you read my words, I invite you to look back.  For if you do, I’m confident you will also uncover the clear fingerprints of God in this season of life, making the prayers of gratitude that will emerge from your lips the most faithful response of all.