Sunday Services at 10 a.m.
Welcome to Rye Congregational Church
And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Revelation 21:5-6)
All things new! Well maybe not all things, at least not yet – and we wouldn’t want everything new because some of the best, most comfortable things are not new but very old and familiar. But it is the start of a new year, 2016 – it doesn’t seem possible, but here it is. For me there is much that is new and for you, too, I suspect. I am new to you and you are new to me, yet there is something strangely familiar about all this. I’ve visited here many times as a youth, driving my Volkswagen Bug to the beach with my high school friends, looking for a back way that didn’t get us caught in traffic. But mostly, I’ve been here in my dreams – dreams of returning to New Hampshire, to its landscapes, its seascapes, its people and its food. The food here is so good! And the people are … I don’t know how to describe it, I just know I like them – I like them very much.
It gives me comfort to drive past our old house, my old high school (they’ve apparently forgotten all about me, alas!), and my home Church – I still haven’t visited there, but I’ve warned them the day is coming – warned them by phone, email and by personal emissary, for Barbara Flocco, their music director, was the featured pianist at our recent Abendmusik Christmas concert (see article elsewhere in this issue). Somehow, also (and I give thanks to God for this precious gift) it makes me feel closer to my mother who passed away in 2014, when I travel down the same roads we used to drive down together. She did most of the talking back then, but now it’s my turn. She was quite a talker and it was hard to get a word in when she started telling her stories. Those are the things I miss the most, not the special events, but the everyday interactions. I didn’t realize it very much back then, but they were very, very, precious. Golden years. What a gift.
What’s amazing is to see it so clearly now but not to have seen it so much then. Must we go through life this way? so unaware? so unappreciative? The answer is, unfortunately, yes. The sorrow of our existence is that we don’t know the joy that is ours each day and we don’t truly know what we have until it is taken away. In the parting is a parting gift – a gift to see what we were missing. To see it in the end is bitter-sweet, like all the best of life, bitter-sweet. Better than to have never seen it, better than to have never understood. Better late than never, as they say. Let’s save some of our prayers for those who never see, who go through life blind to its Truth, to its true Beauty, to the Font of Love and Grace, that Font of every blessing.
It feels strange, as I said, to be here. It feels unreal. The best way I can describe it is like this: I am now experiencing the full sense of things like never before. Always I could only know this when something was taken away from me. Now I feel it as it is being given to me. God is doing it; I’m very sure of that. And you are all a part of it. I am living a dream. There is a holiness about this place. A peace here. A joy and a happiness. To hear that it was not always so is amazing to me because all these Advent gifts: Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love seem so much at home here – like they belong here. Yet I still know that I’m here on earth and not in Heaven because my heart still knows some fear: fear of the day I come to work and do not have that sense of awe, that sense of holiness, when the worries and distractions of the world have crowded out what should always have center stage in my mind and heart: God’s love, and love for God’s people.
As we start a new year, pray for me, as I will pray for you – pray that 2016 is not the year that any of that happens. Pray that the Spirit will continue to abide in this place and bring the presence of Christ in and among us as it is now, as He promised. Pray with me that it ever shall be… at least for 2016.
In His Love,