Martin Luther once prayed, "Eternal God, you call us to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us."
As the seasons turn firmly into spring and begin to hint at summer, I am reminded that this time of year is one for new ventures, new beginnings of all kinds. On April 19th, we celebrated the ‘new beginning’ of Steve and Nannette, as we witnessed their marriage during our Sunday morning worship service. Congratulations! On Sunday May 17th we will formally welcome two new members to our congregation: Jane Anne Hirschi and Joy Snell. Jane Anne and Joy - welcome to ministry with us in Edmonds!
In May and in June there will graduates graduating from high school, college, and other programs. Each grad will be wide-eyed with hope and simultaneously nervous about the future. I still remember my second day on the job at my first “real job” after college, sitting at my desk in a small office with a parking lot view, wondering what on earth I was doing. How had that course in calculus prepared me to write memos and fill out HR paperwork? (Well, maybe the perseverance I learned taking calculus did help me complete the task…) The graduates among us are stepping out into new beginnings.
In our study of “The Story” we are at the point where one of the chapters is aptly titled “new beginnings.” In that chapter we see how the disciples came together after the resurrection of Jesus and formed a new community. In the book of Acts, that community is described this way, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) The early church had a lot to learn, but they started with what they knew: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship with one another, shared meals (including communion) and prayer. It wasn’t long before they were sending out disciples to other communities to share the good news of the gospel.
New beginnings abound! And each new beginning that we witness or participate in brings to mind other new beginnings that we have experienced. Witnessing a graduation or a wedding brings to mind other celebratory days in our lives. Watching a person proclaim their faith in Christ as they unite with this congregation brings to mind the Sunday when we stood before a congregation and proclaimed “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior!”
New beginnings, however, always carry an element of risk. To start something new, to venture forth is to risk failing. In my own new beginnings, it has been important to me to remember the biblical concept of ‘grace.’ Frederick Buechner says this about grace, “Grace is something you can never get but only be given.” Grace is a free gift given to us by God. It is completely unearned. Forgiveness is one example of God’s grace toward us. We can, and ought to also offer ourselves grace. Anthony Robinson affirms that in the following words of blessing, an apt prayer for all who may be venturing into new beginnings, “May God grant you grace never to sell yourself short; grace to risk something big for something good; and grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love."
With prayers in Christ,