September 12, 2006

Looking Forward to September 17, 2006 -- 15th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture readings this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Proverbs 1:20-33
  • Psalm 19 (VU p. 740)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: James 3:1-12
  • From the Gospel: Mark 8:27-38

The Hymns this week are:

  • 409 Morning Has Broken
  • 238 How Great Thou Art
  • 372 Though I May Speak
  • 506 Take My Life and Let It Be

This Sunday we will also hear a report from Christina and Josh, who attended the Children and Young Teens event at General Council last month.

The Sermon is titled And a New Year Begins -- What Lies Ahead?

Early Thoughts: There are many things we call "New Year's". One is the beginning of the calendar year on December 31-January 1 (as it happens December 31 will be a Sunday in 2006 and we will have a special New Year's worship on that morning). Then in the church we talk about the liturgical year which starts on the first Sunday of Advent (December 3 this year). But the one New Year which likely impacts our day-to-day lives the most is the beginning of September.

The beginning of September, for many of organizations, marks the beginning of a new program year. Summer holidays are over, school is starting, which means that people will be around rather than out at the lake, and people are starting to fill in their calendars for the fall/winter.

The concept of a New Year intrigues me. It has the ring of a chance to start over. It has the smell of hope and promise. It tastes of possibility. So what can we do with all this newness, this hope, this possibility.

This summer I spent a lot of time thinking forward, musing on what the future may hold. And the question that spurred some of that thinking was How healthy/viable is Riverview as a congregation? Are we thriving? Struggling? Dying? And what do we do next? As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, the Board will be doing some visioning work this fall to look at some of those questions. But it is the whole congregation's job to do that, not just the Board and minister.

Part of the role of paid ministry is to lead. Part of the role is to step back and let others lead. Part of the role is to lay out in words some of what you see as potential hurdles and potential leaping off points. This Sunday I am planning to do some of that. We will hear about some of what is happening in the larger part of the United Church of Canada. We will talk about what might need to happen here. We may even name some of the real struggles that lie in our path. And the hope is that we can start working together to recapture a sense of vision, a sense of what we can add to the life of Atikokan. Only once that vision is present can we move toward greater health and vitality.

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