Without giving away too much, a question has been percolating in my head these last couple of weeks heading into our text from John 16:16-24 for this coming Lord’s Day. The question has to do with which tense the Christian life is best lived in. Is it the past, the present or the future? You will have to wait till Sunday to get the full reflection, but we can at least agree that because of the resurrection of Christ, who is the firstfruits of our own resurrection, Christians live in the present informed by the promises of the future. Perhaps the present perfect progressive, a tense which describes an action begun in the past, continuing in the present, and that may continue into the future, best captures the sentiment.
Practically it is this present perfect progressive that has occupied the session lately. As you know, there are a number of issues before Christ Church as we seek to carry out God’s calling for us in GR. (I shared the 8 pressing initiatives a couple of weeks ago). Just this week the session had an opportunity to meet and move along some conversations that have been ongoing both in the session and in the congregation. First, we were thrilled to be able to commit to our missions team an extra $30,000 due to the generous beyond-the-budget giving in 2017. As an extension of our January missions month, the missions team came with a plan to encourage and expand some ministries of current missionaries for the cause of the Gospel. It was a delight to be able to support those plans.
Second, we continued discussions centered around ministry vision going forward, including building expansion. The Lord has been gracious in giving a great deal of unanimity within the session to see that building expansion is a means to continued stewardship of our calling, not an end in itself. That said, we are excited to share with you in the coming weeks thoughts on building expansion, continued church planting efforts, and efforts to continue to be welcoming to those who do not have a relationship with Christ or a church home. We are excited about the direction of the conversation and look forward to hearing your thoughts as collectively we refine things further.
Finally, a key piece of maintaining a strong “home base” at CC and ensuring continued Gospel worship, teaching, discipleship and congregational care will be initiating a search process for a pastor who will eventually address some of the gaps left by Pastor Steve. As you know, Steve has announced his intention to retire. The session has begun to assess pastoral needs going forward and has tasked our personnel team with leading this search. Specifically, over the next months they will be seeking guidance as they develop a profile that best fits our needs and add members to their team to be representative of the congregation. Note the special Session Soundings Live version of our April Showers of Praise (April 25) as a further invitation for dialogue.
I hope you catch that we are excited about the things God is doing in our midst. Even as we are excited we are mindful that every person connects with growth, change, and development differently. For some, these changes are full steam ahead excitement! For others, change is more colored by loss of what was and fear about what is to come. For most, the journey that God has Christ Church on is probably some mixture of the two. But, as always, we remember that we don’t journey alone. Our Savior has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Or, to put it into the context of our text for Sunday where Jesus speaks to disciples facing an uncertain future, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. ... Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. ... Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:22–24). What wonderful promises these are indeed! Made all the sweeter because they are Yes! and Amen! in Christ! So we journey, but we journey together with the joy of the Lord as our strength (cf. Neh. 8:10).