Advent means “coming.” Its been described as a season of “expectant waiting and preparation” for the coming celebration of Christ’s birth and for the coming of Christ himself to us again. As such, it’s a season filled with anticipation and hope as we look forward and get ready for Christmas.
This seems like an apt metaphor for FUPC at this exact moment in time. Your session has done the good work of interviewing and getting to know interim pastor candidates, praying, and finally selecting an interim pastor for this time and place in your history. Zach Lysdahl too, has heard the call to come and join you in ministry. He has been introduced to you via video in worship. And now you wait – a long six weeks until he arrives. And he waits too! And waiting is something none of us likes to do!
As a child for me, counting the days down until Christmas was a big deal. All of the stores had signs in their windows declaring “15 Shopping Day Left Until Christmas,” “14 Days Left…” and on it went. And it was torture for a little boy wondering what exciting gifts lay in store for me! I could hardly wait for the big day to come.
Does it feel like that now with Zach?
Well, this waiting time can be very useful for us. In relation to Christmas, this Advent season is filled with so many things to do, so many preparations to make for the season that you might sometimes wish the “Shopping Days” signs counted up rather than down. Our schedules seem filled to overflowing with shopping, baking, cleaning, wrapping, arranging, partying, and all the other “ings” that fill our schedules at this time of year that “expectant waiting” for Christ seems like the last thing we do in Advent. Yet the church calls us to use this time to prepare for the coming of the Christ into our lives – to make room at the inn of our hearts for his life to be born in us anew.
Well, the coming of a new pastor brings its own level of anticipation and hope.
Sometimes we can get caught up in having too many expectations for the new pastor that lead to disappointment when that pastor finally arrives. So as your Bridge Pastor, may I say to you – though I like him very much, Zach is not perfect! (Hint: As pastors, none of us are perfect – and we will disappoint you).
Sometimes we see a new pastor like I saw Christmas as a kid – about the gifts which were all for me. As your Bridge Pastor, may I say to you that God has not called Zach here to satisfy the desires of any one of you, or even all of you! God has called Zach here to help lead you to what God has in store for this congregation in 2020 and beyond. And sometimes what God has in store does not fit our own personal desires.
Sometimes we see the coming of a new pastor as the solution to all of our church’s problems. As your Bridge Pastor, may I say to you that though Zach is gifted, he is not that gifted. (Hint: None of us is so gifted so as to make problems magically go away. That only comes through hard work and difficult decisions done together.)
So how might each of us use this Advent time of anticipation and hope? I would suggest that the best way for each of us to get ready for the coming of Christ, and the coming of your new interim pastor, is found in three disciplines of the season.
First, use this Advent season to rejoice. Look carefully at all of what you already have as a congregation, the gifts God has placed in each of you for doing good in the church and in the world. Identify and celebrate those gifts in each other. You are a gifted church already involved in Christ’s mission in this place. Rejoice in what God is already doing among you. Rejoice every day. You might say, “Rejoice always…”
Second, use this Advent season as a season of prayer. Pray for Zach. Pray for this congregation. Pray that God will make clear to all of you the direction of your ministry together. Pray for open hearts. Pray for open minds. Pray for the Spirit’s presence among you. Pray every day. You might say, “Pray without ceasing…”
Third, be filled with thanks. Find something about your church to be thankful for every day. Even your trials and difficulties are things in life for which to give thanks, as they make us stronger. Give thanks. You might say, “Give thanks in all circumstances...”
You are already a congregation of hope and energy, filled with energetic leaders and excited for what lies ahead. You have called a wonderfully thoughtful and gifted Interim Pastor. Now its time for a season of Advent waiting.
This is what Paul said to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18). And this is my ardent hope for each of you and for all of you this special season.
Joy to You,
Bridge Pastor Bob
The Session has been busy the last two months, by first finding a Bridge Pastor, Rev. Bob Jensen and later working with the Presbytery to find an Interim Pastor. This has been a change from the old method of creating a PNC, doing a Mission Study, interviewing candidates and then selecting an Interim from the candidates. Last time we did this I think it took about two years.
The Presbytery chose three candidates that they thought would be a fit with our church. The Session interviewed the candidates and then discussed the pros and cons of each one. We then met as a Session and re-interviewed the person we thought was the best fit for our church (we took him out to dinner) and asked if he was interested in our church and he said yes. He in turn gave us a test to see what our priorities are for a pastor. Happy to say, we passed!
Rev. Zachary Lysdahl met again with the Session and a representative from the Transition Team, Pastor Marc Wendleton, to make a formal contract, and discuss salary and benefits, Pastor Zach accepted our offer and will be starting with our church on January 6,2020.
The Session talked about many other items and repairs that needed to be made to the church. Each committee sent in a report that discussed the committee’s plans and what they had accomplished during the previous months.
Your Session is always working to ensure that you, the congregation, have your requests and ideas heard. Please let the appropriate committee chair know your thoughts so that we can discuss them in our meeting.
2020 will be an exciting year. Pastor Zach mentioned several projects that the Session will be working on in the new year and we are looking forward to the changes that these might bring.
Blessings from Session for a joyful Christmas and New Year!
Jodee Kleb, Clerk of Session
Communion to the Furthest pew will next be Sunday, December 1 following the worship service. If you or someone you know would be blessed by receiving the sacrament at home, please call Pastor Bob (262-894-6581) as soon as possible.
Poinsettias are $9.00 each. See the sign up sheet in the Narthex
Jan Trosper will be leading the Advent Study group "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly". The group will meet on Sunday evenings from 4-5 pm in the meeting room. There will be children's activities as well.
Jan Trosper will be leading the Advent study group. The material is called "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly". There will be children's activities as well as the adult study. The group will start Sunday, December 1st, at 4PM and will be held in the meeting room. It should be fun for all ages, please come and celebrate the Christmas season together.
The RED CROSS will host a blood drive in Westminster Hall on December 31st from 10AM - 2 PM.
For the blood drive, please call Warren Carter at 618-344-0730. You can also go to redcrossblood.org or email CarterWL@Charter.net to set up an appointment time. There will be a signup sheet in the narthex with the available appointment times.
Pledge cards for 2020 were recently mailed out. Please return your estimates of giving for 2020 to the church by the end of the year so we can plan our budget accordingly.
Per Capita for 2019 is$31.00 per member. If you have not paid for 2019, please pay by December 22, 2019.
Per Capita for 2020 will be $32.00 per member. Please do not pay this until after January 1, 2020.