At the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches’ Annual Meeting and Conference in Cleveland, OH, June 22-25, we enjoyed many special lectures and events (see Delegate Liane Jensen’s article in this newsletter). One particular highlight for me was the series of three Bible Lectures by Rev. Dr. Brett Younger, Senior Minister of Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn, NY. As he used the gospel of Mark to express the theme, “Jesus, the Heart of It All,” one of Dr. Younger’s provocative points grew from his experience living in New York City. Many tourists come to that metropolis, and they are SO EXCITED to see and feel and hear and smell everything. There’s not enough time in a day to do everything that attracts and interests them! He compared that to his own familiarity with the city, and the way he stopped being so enthusiastic about things that attracted him at first. This is how it is with our faith, he said: as it becomes familiar, we stop really seeing and feeling and hearing and experiencing it. “We need to live like TOURISTS to our faith,” he proclaimed, “retaining the excitement, engagement, and eagerness to see and share instead of being jaded.”
All of us have at some point come to our faith, and to North Church as a place to express that faith. What excited you when you first came? I loved the way everyone greeted one another at the start of the service, and the enthusiasm for missions that was so evident in the life and activities of the church. What made you enthusiastic and engaged? I also remember when I first went to seminary, how astonished I was as I studied the Bible. With each class session, with each discussion, I loved this varied witness of our faith and story of Jesus more and more, and was eager to talk about it! In fact, I still am. What excites you about following in the Jesus path?
Having myself grown up in and around New York City, I also remember how it felt to see tourists, to give them directions, to answer questions. I learned a lot about the place I thought I knew in the process, and felt new excitement for the place by seeing it through new eyes! Let’s take advantage of the relaxed time of summer to practice seeing our faith and our church with new eyes, and talking to others about their “first time all over again” experiences. The Good News of God’s unending love and grace shown to us in Christ is far too important to ever become old and stale: so keep alert! Talk about your faith! And be prepared for new perspectives and new adventures as we worship and serve God together.
In the newness of the gospel, Rev. Dr. Mary E. Biedron