What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (NRSV)
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
“The Summer Day,” by Mary Oliver
Flemington Borough is a place of old buildings. Many of the homes and businesses in the vicinity of the church were built well before electricity. Some even predate plumbing, if you care to imagine what that was like. Most have been adapted, expanded, wired, rewired, plumbed, and retrofitted to meet the needs of the present, and will be transformed again to suit whatever purpose tomorrow brings.
The church building where we worship is no different. At the time it was built, it had a large balcony. Forty or so years later, that balcony was walled in to hold organ pipes. Forty or so years after that, another wing was added to house classrooms. Now we are re-purposing some of this space to once again hold a preschool. We are working to improve accessibility to all our spaces. It’s a lot, and it’s rewarding.
It’s easier to talk about hands-on and visible work than everything that goes on to support that work. In these almost three years we’ve been working together it’s become clear there is some internal and organizational renovation that needs to take place to match the external good work we are achieving. Change is a part of any healthy system, including churches, but churches are often set up in ways that make changing anything nearly impossible.
There are some simple things we are going to move toward in 2020 to help make space for some God-given growth to take root and flourish. One of these is the implementation of three-year terms for all ministry roles in the church. If you are serving somewhere, as a Trustee or on SPR or anywhere else, and have served there for three or more years, it’s time to share your gifts in something else. If you are not currently serving in any ministry area, please prayerfully consider stepping up and helping out. Just think, it’s a commitment of at most three years, after all.
While it’s hard to say we’ve actually experienced Winter, true Spring remains just around the corner. We are equipped for this time, to bless this community of old buildings with something new that is also old, something beautiful that is also simple. What will this church look like tomorrow? It’s a question we will answer and work toward together.
Grace and Peace,