Many years ago, I began to play in the worship band for a church service called New Beginnings. At a local United Methodist church, this represented my first explorations of worship outside of traditional mainline liturgies and theological expressions other than Lutheran (ELCA).
After a long journey where I explored worship expressions in Wesleyan, Brethren, Vineyard, Charismatic, Evangelical, and Orthodox communities, I recommitted to life in the ELCA, and began the ordination process.
Tomorrow comes another new beginning: my first day as the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Radford, VA. This call pulls on my experiences not only with Lutherans but from across the church, largely because Christ is a congregation in search of a new identity, of their own new beginning.
One of my favorite phrases from my days with the Brethren is this: "We are a church, reformed and always reforming." This places us on a trajectory of relying upon the work of Martin Luther but continually seeking to participate in the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in in the present day. Beginning tomorrow, only twelve hours from now, we together will give thanks for our traditions and look toward the new beginnings God has in store for us.
In Revelation 21, John has a vision where Jesus shouts from the throne of heaven, "See! I am making everything new!" This phrase is a bastion of hope for me because, in the midst of change, we may be sure that God is in the business of redemption, of refreshing the stagnant, of reviving the dying, of healing the sick and of rebuilding the broken.
I also take solace in this because this will happen in God's time. John saw a vision of the future rather than a present reality. We are in the midst of transformation, so not everything will be new tomorrow. In the meantime, we are in process. God is in the midst of making us new, and has called us together to be a part of that newness.
I'm excited, anxious, and already a bit overwhelmed, all at the hands of the Maker who makes things new. Thanks be to God.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.