Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Nugget, September 2006

“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.”
(Phil. 3.13-14)

Few things ever get to be 140 years old. No person has ever lived that long. Few buildings, especially in the U.S., survive that long. Of all the things in which we invest lots of money and resources -- furniture, clothes, animals, cars, jewelry, books, computers, appliances, etc. – few, if any, of them will survive 140 years. Look around you right now. What can you see that was around 140 years ago? Anything?

The month of September is the opportunity for us to celebrate the 140th anniversary of First Congregational Church of Murphys. Sunday, September 24 is the day that it will all come together and we will worship and celebrate in a fashion worthy of the event. Give close attention to the details in our Newsletter of the anniversary events that are planned. Your help is needed to make it a memorable and enjoyable day!

140 years is a milestone well worth celebrating. Not just because it is a remarkable thing for a congregational of people to be able to trace their existence back that far. After all, none of us were here back in the beginning. None of us are even old enough to be the children of the founders who first worshipped at Church and Algiers Streets. The farthest that any person in this church can trace their presence here is not even half way back to the beginning!

This 140th Anniversary is worth celebrating because it helps us get a clearer idea of who we are and where we need to go. That is why the theme of this anniversary is “Celebrate the Past – Embrace the Future.” Our theme is NOT “Worship the Past, Eschew the Future,” or “Live in the Past, Wonder About the Future,” or even “Embrace the Past, Forget the Future.” None of those get at the heart of what’s important in this anniversary. We want to celebrate the past, so that we can embrace the future.

Charles Kettering, in the spirit of the Apostle Paul as quoted at the top of this article, once said, “I am not interested in the past. I am interested in the future, for that is where I expect to spend the rest of my life.” This is true even though it is in the past that we learn some valuable lessons, and find strength and courage for moving into the future.

This last year and a half has been an Interim Time for our church as our Search Committee has worked hard at searching for a settled Pastor. This time has been a unique opportunity for us to regroup as a faith community. We have reflected on where we have been and who we are, and have done some thinking about where we are headed. That endeavor comes into even sharper focus as we pause to consider the meaning of turning 140.
We are in a unique position to build on the experiences of those who have preceded us, that “great cloud of witnesses,” to use language of the Book of Hebrews. Because of who they were – their faith, their sacrifice, their energy, their creativity, their foresight, their courage – we are uniquely positioned to plan and build for the coming years.

Even after 140 years, it can be said that the best is yet to be. This month’s anniversary will be one more step toward reaching for all that God has in mind for us, for realizing yet again that “God is STILL speaking”. Join with your church family and friends in making this anniversary event something that will catapult us into the next chapter of our life together.

Steve Shepard
Interim Pastor