Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Dear Friends,

Transitions. Breathtaking at times. Life changing. Or sometimes invisible and barely there. On September 22nd, my least favorite season of summer transitioned into my favorite season of autumn. At first glance, you couldn't tell the difference. For the last few days of summer it was in the mid-eighties. The sun rose at 6:16 and set at 7:15. And for those first few days of autumn, it was in the mid-eighties. The sun rose at 6:16 and set at 7:15. By all outward appearances, there was no change. But on that first day of autumn, during my morning walk at 6:30, the air smelled different. There was a freshness to it. A new fragrance from something blooming in the hills.  I pass by a small tree growing in the wild on the slope and see baby pomegranates. I silently thank the birds for carrying the seeds of this Old Testament fruit and dropping them on the hill. This morning, pumpkin spice came to mind. Has it been a year since I've made pumpkin scones? And as the temperature drops, it's time for our annual visit to Oak Glen and the apple orchards. There was no outward change from one day to the next in this transition of seasons last week. What changed was my perspective. I was no longer looking at the present unrelenting heat but looking forward in anticipation to the cool days ahead in this autumn season.

The day before the transition of summer to autumn, we heard about the transition of our church from the south part of the valley to the north. A new location. New neighborhood. New community. New worship sanctuary. For some a much shorter drive. For others, longer. We can feel as if every aspect of our beloved church has been disrupted and changed. Old habits, routines, Sunday morning schedules and comfort zones have disintegrated. Our favorite parking spot is gone. Our favorite place to sit in our favorite pew is no more. Change can bring a heightened level of anxiety and a fear of the unknown.

That’s why it’s time to ask ourselves, “In the center of this chaotic change, what is the essential core of who we are as a church-as the “body of Christ”? Because the answer to that is You. Me. Us. And that means that we will be the “starter” for this new season of growth in our church and in the ministry to this new community.

If I were a condemned prisoner choosing his “last meal” it would be a loaf of fresh-baked sourdough bread and a big ‘ol chunk of butter. San Francisco gets the credit for “inventing” sourdough bread and there is something in the air around the bay area that gives their sourdough starter a flavor like no other. But sourdough bread was the first yeast type of bread recorded by historians and was used around 1500 BC in Egypt. That was the time of the Exodus, so when God's chosen people were told to bake “unleavened bread,” it was because they needed to hurry up, get out of town and not waste any time by adding the sourdough starter! (Exodus 12:39)

How it works is by taking a clump of the old dough and adding it to the new, freshly made dough. That remnant of the old sourdough becomes the beginning of a whole new batch of bread. And here's the best part. The unique taste of the starter makes each batch of bread taste the same. 

We are a unique church. We’ve added elements of the ancient/future church movement and incorporated the liturgy of the early church in the context of our Spirit-filled worship. And today, the way we worship is as unique as our Eucharistic liturgy. Our prayers. Our fellowship. Our hospitality. We are the core of New Hope Family Church. 

It is only through change that we can experience growth and transformation. And now, as we transition together to a new community, we the  faithful remnant are the “starter” that will infuse and fill this new church with our own unique “flavor.” It will be different. It will be the same.

What excited me about the approaching season of autumn was what I knew that was destined to take place. With that same heightened expectation of what God is doing in our church, I invite you to join me in looking forward to this transition and what He has destined to take place in us, with us and through us.  Amen?