Our annual July 4th Picnic is here and temperatures have hit 100°, yes, we are in the midst of summer. I hope you will come and enjoy a wonderful July 4th celebration hosted by our deacons. There will be hot dogs and hamburgers and patriotic music (York River Concert Band) and the Teeny Tiny Farm Petting Zoo. It is a delightful afternoon of fun, food, and fellowship.
I hope you will also remember we have a Quarterly Business Meeting the end of the month (July 25th). Along with receiving reports, there is always some business that requires our attention. A portion of that business will be a report on the visioning process and our continued discernment of God’s future for Walnut Hills.
In mid-June, our Action Teams shared their progress regarding their discernment of our next ministry steps in strategic areas. I shared a devotional that evening that included some interesting thoughts from our Anglican brothers and sisters. Anglican theologian, Herbert Kelly was asked how we can know the will of God. He responded, “We do not. That is the joke.”
The Archbishop of the Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, agreed with Kelly saying we are left with our free will and power of discernment to decide if our life comports with the will of God, and then we trust that God will pick us up and restore us if we make a mistake. But Williams went on to add, the key question to ask in the discernment process is this – “What course of action might be (even a little) more in tune with the life of Christ? And what opens, rather than closes, doors for God’s healing, reconciling, forgiving, and creating work to go on?” (Rowan Williams, Where God Happens)
As I reflect upon our journey, I realize that we have not rushed to conclusions (i.e.. The visioning process has taken a lot of time). We have prayed and then prayed some more and we have continued to pray, asking the questions over and over – Lord, who do you want us to be and Lord, what do you want us to do? Our answers emerged in three critical areas:
- The Least of These Among Us
- The Guest In our Midst
- Families of All Shapes and Sizes.
We have shared freely during this process and we have already taken action in several directions regarding these areas of ministry (such as the Community Free for All; the J-1 Visa ministry, our Homeless ministry, and more). And we will bring you up to date with regards to more actions we see in our future. But mostly, what I want you to see and sense is that what we have discerned is what Rowan Williams identified: Actions that are in tune with the life of Christ? We have embraced ministry directions that open, rather than close, doors for God’s healing, reconciling, forgiving, and creating work to go on?”
I think we can all be excited that we are choosing a path that models Christ’s life and values and continues to integrate Walnut Hills into the life of the community around us. Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson stated: “Many followers of Jesus today . . . think the church is a place to hear God’s word and be healed of their diseases. But will the church also be a place of serving and giving? Will it be your place of serving and giving?” (Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson, The Externally Focused Church). As we move forward we are answering that question with an emphatic YES! Walnut Hills will be a place where serving and giving is evident, not by what we say, but rather by what we do. Ed Young, Jr. in his book, Know Fear put it this way, “Faith requires action. As we trust God with the future, we need to be taking the next step along the path.” Thanks to all of you for taking these steps together.
See you Sunday if not before,