From the New Pastor

From
July 17, 2019

Hello, Washington New Church!

I’m writing this on a laptop in my very empty (and weirdly cold, for June) office at Glenview New Church. All my books are in boxes and waiting in my garage for the moving truck to arrive tomorrow, my final sermon for Glenview is written, and my mind is now turning toward the future. Toward you.

I have a ton to talk to you all about. I have hopes and dreams, and I have questions. I hope to talk with you all soon about these things, and get going right away on assessing your present situation and working together to plan the next phase of our shared future. But before I say too much about that, I really need to do some additional listening. Keep an eye out for future announcements from me regarding all that.

For now, though, I think I’d like to share with you my final pastoral message to the congregation I am now departing. Every minister develops over time some core pieces of doctrinal understanding that become themes for their career, or at least for some phase of it. What I wrote for the people here in Glenview represents one of those thematic approaches for me, and is a kind of framework that I have derived from my reading of the Lord’s Word, that helps me order not my only studying, but also my work as a pastor. It comes up a lot in my teaching and leading, in different forms.

Here’s what I wrote, minus some personal mushy stuff you wouldn’t be interested in…

***

So what do I want to say to Park News readers as my farewell message? What one thing do I want you to take away from my three years of preaching, teaching, leading, communicating and being in community with you all?

Well, one is hard. I have a list of seven things. I strongly believe that if you take these seven tasks deadly seriously, and make them the seven most important things in your life–even for a short period of time–then you will see a powerful net positive result in the lives of the people around you, and maybe even in your own life, too. Here they are:

Read the Word. Do it on a schedule. Set aside a regular time to do it. Even if it’s a tiny amount of reading, making it a habit to read the Word will lead slowly to enlightenment and to a closer connection with God.

Worship the Lord in community with others. Showing up to Sunday worship is good for you. And it’s not just about the preaching. There is more power than you may realize in spending an hour with a large group of people in prayer, singing and worship. And even if sometimes you don’t feel like you’re getting something out of a particular Sunday morning experience, your very presence is almost certainly useful to others there in the room with you.

Pray. This is the one I’d pick if I had to pick only one. Pray regularly, just like reading regularly, and also pray spontaneously. Both planned times of prayer and the habit of quickly turning to the Lord in your heart and mind during times of decision making, stress, anxiety, and fear, will improve your life.

Repent. For real, work the steps. Think of a recurring challenge in your life that shows up in multiple contexts. Guess what? It’s not likely to get better without repentance. If you don’t periodically look at yourself and honestly confront your own shortcomings, you’re not going to improve as a person. And if you don’t bring the Lord into that process, you’re going to have a miserable time at it. That’s just how it is.

Avoid anything that entices you to do things that aren’t loving or to believe things that aren’t true. A big part of becoming a better, healthier, more whole person is slowly transforming things that you enjoy but that are bad for you into things that you actively dislike doing. But until that process is complete, there’s going to be some self-denial involved. The technical term for this is “shunning evil”.

Focus on service. Every day. Not just in your “official” occupation, but in the little interactions you have with friends, loved ones, neighbors and strangers. Stop asking, “What’s in it for me?” Happiness is not something that comes as a result of pursuing it. Focus on being useful, and trust that the rest will come.

Love. Love actively. Love isn’t a feeling, it’s a lifestyle. A mission. Love people that you can’t stand. If you have to, pray to love them. Love everyone. Love the Lord, love the Truth as a path to find Him. Love the goodness that exists in every single person you meet, and when you can’t find that goodness, look harder. And love fiercely, forgivingly, and courageously.

***

So there it is, Washington New Church. I could say more about each of them, of course, as well as about how they interrelate with one another. In fact, I think I probably will. But not today.

In other news, I’m writing this in the middle of June, and shivering. It’s just barely broken above sixty degrees, and I’m taking it a bit personally. I’d be less annoyed if I still had some long pants or a jacket I could wear, but they’re all hidden away in the mountain of boxes stacked in my dining room. But my weather app says Mitchellville is enjoying a delightful eighty-seven degree afternoon, so things are moving in the right direction. Looking forward to seeing you all and starting this next (warmer) chapter of my life.

~ Mac Frazier,


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