What’s Next? or Who’s Next?

By Rev. Cindy Marino

I find myself asking that question at the wrap up of any project or event. I’m not good at the whole ‘"reflect, evaluate, be thankful" piece of life in ministry. By the time one thing comes to its conclusion, I’ve moved on. I tend to think in big pictures, each project being a part of our movement toward a present and future whole.

The recent renovation at Grace is a great example. It’s vital and good to pause to evaluate and elevate this success for Grace; so much work has gone into bringing this exciting plan for space that encourages relationships to thrive. I do hope you were able to join us for the service of dedication. I will forever be in awe of the leaders who guided this project. 

I now find my thoughts turning to the future and how the space will facilitate our mission to invite the community to be a part of who we are in Christ.

Grace UMC is in a unique position. A list of all the advantages and blessings available to this congregation would be lengthy enough to surround this beautiful property: loving people who know God’s presence, a dedicated prayer team, devoted teachers and active classes, overflowing resources when inspiration nudges to give generously, amazing and gifted staff, committed leadership and caretakers, a beautiful setting along the river amongst stately century oaks, a team of clergy who like each other and work well together. 

But none of these is honoring to God if we aren’t using them to reach new people for Christ.

Along with asking, “What’s next,” we might ask, “Who’s next?”

We are reminded that Jesus left the 99 sheep to go out and find the one that was missing. Can we find the courage to do the same? The 99 are well cared for, have community in one another and all of the blessings of a family of faith. The "one" is out there alone, caught up in the notion that we need to be strong, self-sufficient and self-directed to make it in this world. 

How wonderful that we have a God who proclaims the opposite to be true! We are strongest together in relationship, admitting our need for a Savior. Our faith requires us to be in community with one another for accountability, learning, caring, support, and to be our best selves. Just as Jesus reaches out to include us in relationship to God through Him, we must reach out to others. Just as Jesus invites us to participate in His worship of the Father, we must participate in that worship with one another.

Challenge yourself in these next few months to consider not only what’s next, but who is next? 

Our new worship schedule provides new options for inviting others to join you in worship and in fellowship:

          •  A staid and steady style with familiar hymns will provide solace for many at 8 a.m. 
          •   A creative use of our traditions will guide us at 10:30. 
          •   And a contemporary service friendly to those unfamiliar with church will invite and welcome everyone at 9 in the Activity Center. 
          •  The 9:15 faith formation hour will provide classes and groups for many styles and stages of faith.
          •  A beautifully reflective, but casual Saturday service breaks for the summer but will return in joy on August 17. 

Consider which of these options might appeal to that person who needs this community as much or more than you do and invite them to join you. 

May Grace UMC exist for those who are not yet here, as Jesus came to teach us the true meaning of a love that gives itself away! And may we all be blessed as we grow in love together!