Endings Are New Beginnings (2017)

Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes…” Billy Joel sang. Beginnings and endings make our time, our lives, our life together as a congregation.

In our personal lives, we tend to review and recap at the end of the calendar year. Here at SOTV it makes sense to do so at the end of our program year and as we prepare for our annual meeting, which will take place on Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 12:15 pm. (Mark your calendar!)

Some ministries don’t have clear endings and beginnings, of course. Worship continues year round. Pastoral care too. So do many of our outreach ministries, including our Tanzania support. CYF shutters confirmation and Godzone for the summer but keeps things moving with mission trips, VBS, mini camps, and Summer Stretch. As we continue to work and plan, the cost of the ministry that SOTV does year round continues. We certainly appreciate your continuing to give generously even while we hope you also get some refreshing vacation time away. (Please see the article about the many different ways to give on page 8).

Recent years were marked by pastoral staff endings and, in a way, that continued this year as we said goodbye to two fine and faithful interim pastors, Ron Olson and Maggie Novak. But you have said a gracious hello and offered a supportive welcome to both Wendy Steger and me as you called us to be your pastors this past year. New beginnings allow the endings to truly end and bring excitement for refreshed hope and new initiatives.

One of the things we’ve already accomplished is to update our logo. The goal was to have a sense of continuity from the old “shepherd” logo but also to create a simpler, more contemporary look. We have accomplished this with what we are calling the cross-crook logo as seen on the front page of this newsletter. It is essentially a piece of the former logo, where the shepherd’s crook crossed the shepherd’s outstretched arm. I particularly like how the cross is an integral part of the shepherd’s crook. At the heart of the good shepherd’s never ending care for us (the shepherd’s crook) is the empty cross, the universal symbol of our Christian faith that is anchored in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The font for our name is fresh too—cleaner and easier to read. It is also noteworthy that both the logo and the text “lean” forward. Rooted in tradition, we exist to serve today, trusting that the future is in God’s hands.

Other beginnings are on the horizon as well. Breaking Bread is a new Sunday evening worship experience that will take place in the Great Hall. It will include both a meal and Holy Communion, and will be more casual than our current worship offerings. This will start on Sunday, August 20 at 5 PM. Starting on Monday, September 25, FaithConnect will be a six-week large group/small group learning experience that will help us connect faith to life and God’s people to one another. This will be offered again in the spring, with different content. In between, during the winter, FaithFoundations will be offered for those who would like to learn about or brush up on some of the essentials of our faith. Of course, this is the year of “Send” as well and that team is planning all sorts of opportunities for us to explore how God calls us to “put feet to our faith.”

Revelation reminds us that Jesus Christ is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the paramount ending leading to a new beginning. It gives us hope in hard times that often include endings and trust in the new beginnings that follow. In what can sometimes feel like a graceless age, it frees us to love and serve.

Pastor Rick (2017)

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