This past month our hearts soared as we celebrated the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in our morning services on January 17 and then welcomed the Akron community to a special interfaith service that evening. Thank you to all who came out to hear voices from the Akron interfaith community and the perspectives of the youth of the Akron PeaceMakers, to all who sang in the community choir, and all who baked cookies for the reception. You did First Church proud as you reached out with the inclusive welcome and hospitality of Christ!
As we turn our attention to February, we anticipate the beginning of the Lenten Season. This time of personal reflection anticipates the coming spring (did you know that’s what the word “lent” literally means?) and the ultimate renewal we celebrate at Easter. It is a time for renewed discipleship during which followers have traditionally focused on three Christian practices: praying, fasting, and almsgiving.
I invite you to use Lent this year as an opportunity to reflect on your spiritual journey and perhaps to choose one or more faith practices that you can hone. It could involve a fast of sorts as you reduce your screen time and focus instead on some spiritually centered reading or play a board game with family or friends. It could involve adding or building upon a prayer practice, waking a little earlier and spending some time in quiet meditation, or making a concerted effort to attend church each week. It might even mean reviewing your charitable contributions of time and treasure and the ways you are involved or might become more involved in bringing God’s love and justice into our world.
Whatever it is for you, I encourage you to embark on an intentional spiritual journey this Lent, stretching yourself just a little and inviting God’s spirit and grace into your life in new ways.
Lent will mark another exciting development in the life of our community. The Personnel Board, Moderator and I have been hard at work visioning a role for our next Associate Minister. We have prayerfully considered the Core Values and Bedrock Beliefs that the church identified in recent years and have developed the following position description: “The Associate Minister shares in ordained ministry at First Congregational Church and provides strategic leadership to, and administrative oversight of, outreach ministries and the spiritual development of children, youth and young adults. First Congregational Church understands these ministries as actions, words, and programs that act as the hands and feet of Christ reaching out to serve, embrace, and love the world.”
I anticipate that we will soon invite applications and start interviewing candidates in April. I invite your prayers for the Associate Minister that God is already preparing for us and I welcome your comments or questions, as I know Karen (Moderator) and Laura (Personnel chair) do. We are excited about what God is doing in our midst and the future we glimpse on the horizon!