Renewal is built into the fabric of lives. After the winter solstice the light begins increasing. In time, if even after a particularly long cold spell, spring emerges with greenery and buds on trees. As we bury friends we celebrate the birth of babies to other friends. There is something inexhaustible in creation as it keeps on creating. Renewal is built into the fabric of our lives.
This past Sunday we elected seven new Vestry members (Kathleen Bradford, Marney Garzon, Lawrence Hughes, Will Marks, Dinah McLemore, Keith Miller, and Todd Westhauser). And our Vestry has elected its Wardens for the year, Charlie Harris as Senior Warden and Fred Tyson as Junior Warden. Our process of renewal is a bit more regimented than that of creation, perhaps, but it is similarly inspired. Institutions don’t just keep on doing the same thing they did the year before. They shift and adjust. We raise up new leaders, people who can help us see new possibilities, people who show us that God’s creative powers are on-going. Those who have served step aside for a rest and fresh leaders emerge.
Our generation of parishioners has seen perhaps the greatest of the many years of the history of this parish. But there is something in the atmosphere that suggests the very greatest of our years still are ahead of us. There is a sense of renewal, a time of adjustment where we are being honed for even more wonderful things. The past five years have been hard and traumatic for many parishes. Tough economic times and pressing social issues have cost many congregations of all denominations numerous members. Through those tough years, St. John’s has more than held its own. We have deepened in our faith, endured some shaky times in the world, and perhaps know our dependence on God in a more real way.
This time of year in the life of the parish is always very exciting. Seven new Vestry members join fourteen continuing ones. The grand old tree is very much alive with regeneration budding forth. In another week, the Vestry will go apart for its annual retreat where we take stock of our current status as a parish and set goals for the next step in our common ministry. A new Vestry class, along with the New Year itself, naturally provides us an excited sense of our potential.
Communities regenerate. Long ago I became accustomed to the rhythm of parish life where burials, births, baptisms, weddings, and such carry us from loss to renewal. As my years increase and eventually end, the lives of others are brought forth. It’s very comforting actually to trust that things don’t stop when I must.
Our individual lives are similarly renewed naturally by God’s life-giving spirit. We get tired and then are renewed. Certain parts of us step aside and other parts emerge. Our life in Christ is one of constant growth and renewal. God is in charge of that growth. He is the author of life and salvation.
This is a natural time of renewal in the life of the parish and in our individual lives as well. What are you seeing as evidence of that re-birth? God is singing a new song in our lives.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.