There are some things that stand the test of time and some things that are just a fad. Its true in fashion, sports, décor and even in worship styles. Many have seen bell bottoms come, go and come back. Jousting doesn’t seem common today, nor does flagpole sitting, disco balls or boxing in your pew so no one else can use it (a church tradition from the 17th and 18th centuries in which each family bought its own pew box or section in a church building)—though that old tradition might help us with social distancing.
Yet, black dresses and pants, foot races, sturdy furniture and the reading of scripture seem to stand the test of time. Why? Well, part of it may have to do with what is passed down from generation to generation. While a dining table might make it for 100 years or more, a ball of mirrors is a little more fragile and thus less likely to go from owner to owner. While reading a well written novel may intrigue our minds; studying scripture to learn more about God brings about changes in the heart.
One of the first ways in which our God was identified was through a heart changing faith passed down through the generations. In Exodus 3:6 God self-identifies saying “I am the God of your fatherc—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.”
Moses had faith and respect for God in part because of God’s unique revelation to him and in part because of the traditions that had been passed down from those before him. Traditions that showed this God who could not be surpassed.
This month we have a worship series entitled “Going for God in a Season of Going for Gold”-based on the Olympic tradition which has also been passed down since at least 776 BCE when a– cook named Coroebus won the first Olympics and its one event—a 192-meter footrace called the “stade” (the origin of the modern word “stadium”). While the Olympics have come a long way and grown to encompass new sports and new faces, so have we. We have new members and guests, lifelong members and friends, new and old traditions, and probably even a few fads. We have a beautiful sanctuary where some of us worship, and people who also worship with us from their couches. Yet the faith, the light of Jesus, which fills our sanctuary, our heart, and even our homes is carried forth thanks in part to those who have gone before us. It is somewhat like the tradition of passing the Olympic torch.
This year we have been participating in that tradition, not in sports, but in passing the torch of pastoral leadership from Rev. Colleen to myself. Both she and many of you have taught me me some of our traditions, and probably some of our fads too, and I am grateful. But, just as the Olympic torch run takes many more than two to continue its fire, I now rely on you as we together run the race set before us, hoping that you will help me learn more of what it means to be a torchbearer for Algiers UMC and I hopefully help encourage you to carry on, to discover and deepen your faith as a whole. So, lets run a few laps of this race together, cheered on by so many who have gone before us, ones that once filled our pews, ones that fill our memories, and ones whose photos are posted on the wall of pastors in the basement. I am proud to be the newest one. I am glad to be here at Algiers UMC—knowing that the Light leading the way for us is Christ, the Wind blowing beside us and within us–filling us with breath is the Holy Spirit, and our Eternal Creator is the one who grounded our path long before the Olympics were born. It is this God who ensures that the faith and the faithful of Algiers UMC will never be a fad, but instead a family of torch bearers carrying God’s Eternal Light to our community and beyond.
Grace and peace,