Sunday, April 24, 2016
A Word of Blessing to Colonial Church by Rev. Dr. Arthur Rouner
After the Foundational Decades of our First 70 Years.
You are a wonderful sight. And, this is a great occasion.
Jesus sent his disciples into the world to preach the good news of repentance and forgiveness of sins. And, he said to the church, “You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised. But, stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (from Luke 2 :47-)
I think Jesus wanted His church to be a people of power. The power of the Spirit. Which is the spirit of love. It is an inner spirit conveyed, as with Jesus himself through a humble heart. It really isn’t a strategy, or master plan. It is a willingness to go, to heed the call – admitting that you don’t always know what you are doing, except that you are willing to go, to be there, to go humble and hopeful, knowing it all is God’s work – and He will do it – through His Spirit. If His people will invite Him, and allow Him.
Pope Francis is capturing the world by his heart, by his humble spirit, by charging the church, to SERVE, to LOVE people.
We Congregationalists, are descended from Pilgrims, who wanted, of all things JESUS, and the freedom to follow Him, and love Him, and serve Him. They wanted to be a witness in this wilderness continent, to something God was doing, to a light of life. He was sending. They came to America, bringing a Spirit-tradition, to help communities and towns, as well as churches to know that God is love.
You all know that for a period of wonderful years, Colonial Church had, of all things, a “Mother Superior”. She was our lover. She taught the staff – and all of us, to love – with ingenuous welcoming heart. She succeeded because she had no shame. She didn’t mind if she introduced people who had been members for 30 years. She just wanted them to know each other. To be friends. When Jimmy Carter came to preach his great peace sermon here in the fall of 1987, Joanie absolutely captivated the secret service people who were with him. She just served them. Helped them. Welcomed them. Helped them do what they needed to do.
She tried to help us be shameless in the same way. To love each other – and honor all those God – by His Holy Spirit – drew to this true and authentic fellowship. I’d like to think that is the great way – the open way – of acceptance and of serving.
Without really knowing it, I believe that from the very beginning, with our founders in 1946, Colonial was and wanted to be, a serving people. Serving the community. Especially the young – not only through a genius nursery school, but later young people – with the Jr. High drop in center – “The Colony” – and the high school teen center with a heritage of ministry through the pioneering of David Williamson, and Mark Wickstrom, and Jeff and Tony, and Brian, and all who’ve followed them. Think of the Teaching Ministries we were given – with the twinkling eyes of Maurice Fetty and the humble scholarship of Bob Guelich, and the challenges of Bob McClennan, and later Gary Klingsporn. And the gifted teaching we receive now through Daniel and his depth and humor, fascinating insights, and the remarkable staff of Jeff and Danielle and Brian and Mark, who work with him: which is all of you, who are the believers, and do ministry – in the Spirit’s power!
We are more than ever, a moving out church with Innove’, serving in the spirit of Jesus, in new ways across the city and state. And Greg and Deb on the other side of the world. And now Upper Room with us-alongside. Partnering ministry led by gifted people who served long; Charles 48 years our organist and composer. David doing youth and counseling 25 years, Lois 48 years, and Jeff up to 30 and going for more. All caring.
What good and faithful sewed this church! On staff – and you, who spread the love of Christ all over town – in hospitals, food kitchens, prisons, teaching – on and on. Thank you! Because you, this company, were moved by the Spirit, and committed to love.
And who knows what this church will yet be? If we dare to be Spirit people, and love people, serving all of God’s children – everywhere – and continuing to go to them – ON OUR KNEES. Serving. We will be ready for whatever God has for us. Our charge from our Lord is to help people find forgiveness and new life. To repent and begin again. And, out of His healing, to serve humbly. Everywhere.
We all feel the privilege of new life that has been here for us. And 70 years have flown by. There are decades to come. And centuries. And the great constant will be the power of the Spirit. And the heart of Love.
So, as an old guy who loves you dearly – along with my Molly – we bless you and commend you to Jesus, who out on the trail, will ever call you to the great journey with Him. Don’t give up. Press on, looking only to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. And – may the roads rise for you. May the winds be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your faces, and the rains fall soft upon your fields. And may the Lord hold you – and all whom you love – and He loves – in the hollow of His hand.