Pastor’s Letter – September 2023

With the arrival of the fall season, what I like to think of as the beginning of our “Ministry Year,” and our annual stewardship emphasis coming in October, I want to share again some thoughts from a few years ago that I believe are even more appropriate at this time. It’s based on a parable called

“A Rabbit on the Swim Team.”

Once upon a time, the animals decided they should do something meaningful to meet the challenges of the new world. So they organized a school. They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming, and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum and testing, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming; in fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying, and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to drop swimming and stay after school to practice running. This caused his web feet to be badly worn, so that he was only average in swimming. But average was quite acceptable, so nobody worried about that – except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of his class in running, but developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscles because of so much make-up work in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing, but he encountered constant frustration in flying class because his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the tree-top down. He developed “charlie horse” from overexertion, and so only got a C in climbing and a D in running.
The eagle was the problem child and was severely disciplined for being a non-conformist. In climbing classes he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there.

At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceedingly well and also could run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.

The prairie dogs left the school and fought the tax levy because the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their children to the badger and later joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private school.

The moral of the story is simple:
“Stop trying to force square pegs into round holes.”

I believe more and more that “serving is a team sport, and it takes all types of players for a team to be effective.” In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul shares that all Christians are “gifted people”, endowed by the Holy Spirit with different capabilities for serving.

Some people wonder: “How might I best serve?” Pastor Rick Warren shares an excellent and too often overlooked piece of advice because of its simplicity regarding this question: “How God made you to be is the best indicator of what He wants you to do.” What do you enjoy doing? What types of serving-activity do you naturally gravitate towards when an opportunity presents itself? Do you have a sense of purpose and satisfaction from doing it? Answering these questions is a good starting place when thinking about what you like to do

In addition, it’s also important to discover where youblike to serve. Several years ago, I read an interestingnlittle book titled How I Changed My Thinking About themChurch, written by Dr. Richard Halverson, a Presbyterian pastor, and later in his life, the chaplain to the U.S. Senate. Over his years of ministry, he came to this realization: “There is a difference between the ministry of the church and a church’s ministry.” For many Christians, their serving arena is better found outside the walls of a church building. For others, serving within the walls of a church fits them better. It all depends on how God has “wired” you.

After describing the gift of God’s wonderful grace in Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul continues with this purpose statement in verse 10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he has planned in advance for us to do.” That last phrase has always caught my attention; God has something special for you to do that fits just you!

Give some thought during this month as to where you might want to participate when the “2024 Time & Talent” Form is sent to you. Thank you for taking some time to consider these ideas.