In the hymn “Once to Every Man and Nation.” there is a line that goes “new occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient goods uncouth; they must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.” These words have always had a great deal of meaning to me, especially as I remember Martin Luther King quoting them in many of his sermons.
Now as we approach the year 2014, at Lincoln Temple we are learning how how timely and meaningful these words are. New occasions have caused and will countinue to cause these words to speak more powerfully to this congregation that ever before. New occasions have brought with hem a need for new mindset to settle over members of this church, a need for us to hink in new and different ways.
While some onlookers have voiced cautious reservations about Lincoln Temple’s future, I am encourages by he way members are living into this time of change in our church life. Indeed, the words “upward still and onward” in that hymn capture rightly the positive spirit of church members. The questions for us is not will Lincoln Temple survive; but rather, what new programs can we establish as we seek to provide effective ministry in this location.
At a planning session session several weeks ago, church members identified four new programs that will be in place early in 2014. These programs included a second bible sutdy, a contemporary worship service, a speakers program and food and game night.
To be sure, as new ways of being the church confront us, God continues to be in charge. In our meetings and in our worship we always pray for God’s wisdom to guide us. It is because we are open to God’s Spirit, that Sunday mornings here with its joyful feelings of worship and community are amazing. In keeping with Jesus’ radical hospitality at worship we spread wide our arms and our hearts in joyful hospitality to welcome others. When strangers step into this church they become friends.
The following words God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah are also at the forefront of our minds as we think in new and different ways at Lincoln Temple. “Behold,” says God, “I am doing a new thing.” These words tell us that the God we service is not a God who stays still or gets stuck in the same old grove. Rather, our God seems always to be doing a new (and surprising) thing. And what God is in the process of doing at Lincoln Temple is turning us in a new direction as He guides us into our sure future. Our response must always be “Thanks be to Thee, O God!”
Rev Tendai is the intentional interim minister at Lincoln Temple. This was originally published in the December 2013 Lincoln Reporter the congregation’s quarterly newsletter.