“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
- C.S. Lewis
In order to move forward you have to leave something behind. Oftentimes those moments of transition and unfamiliarity can be full of emotions. Fear, sadness, hope, and excitement. As my family and I step into this new beginning with you, we are full of hope and excitement. The hope of far, far better days ahead and the excitement of what God is up to in the midst of National Park.
As we start a new beginning, I want you to notice that there is an essence to this ecclesia (National Park), a spirit, a feeling that you get. Amanda and I felt it the moment we walked through the doors. I imagine part of what pulled you here is the essence and spirit of this place. People are welcome here, and they know it. Christ is alive here, extending grace to people and liberating people, and giving new life. There is a mission here, a cause, a purpose beyond these walls. You know it and I know it. It’s what fuels our excitement to come alongside you and work with you. You can taste it, feel it, smell it. In the days ahead let’s embrace that. Protect that. Preserve that.
As we start a new beginning, may we remember that Jesus came to give us life (John 10:10). A living, breathing, throbbing, pulsating, blow your hair back, goosebumps down your arm, roll the windows down and drive fast kind of life. An experience of God right here and right now. He called it the abundant life and eternal life.
As we start a new beginning, may we invite everyone to the table (Luke 14:12-14). May we first examine ourselves and make sure that everyone’s rent is paid and that everyone has clothes on their back. May we trust that God’s grace is sufficient for everyone willing to come to the table. May we realize that there is a new creation bursting forth right here, right now and that together we get a taste of that new life and liberation and forgiveness. And as we look those people in the eyes gathered around that table from all walks of life, may we see a new humanity, sinners saved by grace, beggars who have found bread showing the other beggars where they found it.
As we start a new beginning, may we remember that the movement is word to flesh, not the other way around (John 1:14). Beware of those who will take the flesh and want to turn it back into words, checklists, and rules.
As we start a new beginning, I have a promise to give you. I promise to be a voice of hope, help, healing, and truth to you year after year, sermon after sermon. I promise to approach and present Scripture as open and honest and humbly as I know how. Never in a pursuit to please you, but to please God.
As we start a new beginning, may we remember that the world is big and wide and open and things are possible that if they were revealed right now, we'd turn to each other to say, 'no way! that's awesome!' I believe that God is the One at work within us and that we should try our best to let Him do what He is going to do (Eph.2:10).
As we start a new beginning, I believe that God has made this day, that it's good, and you can have joy in it. Even if you're limping and barely making it, you can find joy even in the midst of that. I believe that your value is not in what you produce but simply in the fact that God made you and God calls you good (Gen.1:31). Rest in that. Embrace that. Let that be the launching pad of this new beginning.
Let’s get started!