Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
It is that time of year again, the time when we come together as a community and assess where we have been, where we are today, and where we are going at our Annual Meeting which will be held on Sunday, January 29, 2017 at approximately 11:30am. It is true that the Annual Meeting usually focuses on numbers and finances, but, while attention to the church’s finances and worship life is essential to ensure the continuity of the church’s faithful stewardship of God’s gifts(Notice that I did not say existence here! The Church will exist because the Church is God’s!), there are more profound considerations for the life of the church that we should reflect upon as a community of disciples of Jesus Christ. I, as pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, can say this at a period in the church’s life when we had a very good financial year. We will, of course, discuss the church’s budget, finances, worship life, other occupants that use Zion’s real estate, the youth, social ministry, and evangelism. But, while all of these aspects of ministry tell us something about discipleship, none of them individually or even collectively encapsulate the mission of Christ’s church.
Christ’s mission for us is to be faithful disciples. Faithful discipleship cannot be measured by our finances or worship attendance numbers or any other metric currently available on a spreadsheet. But rather, our faithfulness’ standard by which our walk is gauged is measured against the call of God on us to live as disciples in the world as it is – imperfect. Such a call from God makes many demands on us and we are entreated to respond creatively with our imaginations, hopes, myriad gifts, and love. So, what I am inviting you to do in the time between now and our Annual Meeting is take a moment, however brief, and sit with God and listen to who God is calling you to be as a follower of Jesus Christ in the community of Zion, Rahway. Mine is an invitation to hope and dream of what Zion, Rahway can be.
We needn’t wait for tomorrow to be the Church. We needn’t rest in the precedent of what others have done to proclaim the gratuitous grace which we have received from God through Christ. We are simply called to be faithful, where we are, where two or three are gathered, and there will Christ be. With us. Forever. So, while this letter is a mundane notification of the date and time of our Annual Meeting (1/29/17 @ 11:30am), it is a summons to dream of who we can be together as Christians at Zion, Rahway.
Throughout the Bible, from Abram(Abraham) to John of Patmos, God speaks to people in dreams – God talks to dreamers through dreams both day and night! The essential thing about a dream is that what is dreamt has not yet come to pass, it is a possibility, an open question, or a path yet untrodden. Today, in 2017, God is calling God’s church to dream, listen, and respond faithfully. So, I pray, that our Annual Meeting this year will be one that focuses on the business of the church, but also makes room for vision, for dreams, that might inspire our ministry together.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Carmine Pernini
Annual Meeting on January 29, 2017 following worship (approximately 11:30 am).