Good morning and Happy New Year.
I’m David Cholcher, and on behalf of Steven Hubbard, my co-warden, and the entire vestry, thank you for your prayers and support of the Church of the Ascension. Thank you to Endi Singer, John Grimes, Dori Dinsmoor and Maurice Seaton, our stewardship reflection speakers. If you did not hear all of this year’s stewardship speakers, I encourage you to read their reflections online.
In the past several weeks, we have started to realize the fruits of years of hard work, planning and prayers. We began the interior renovation of the rectory, a renewed space for the parish and our new rector’s family. We signed a term sheet with the French language preschool that will open our community in new ways and help us move from financial stability to long-term sustainability. We launched a combined capital and annual stewardship campaign to demonstrate our deepening investment in the future of the community you see around you this morning and one that reaches far beyond these walls.In two weeks we will celebrate the ministry of Mother Shelley as our priest, our friend and our shepherd through these past years of transition. She has challenged us to step up in faith and step out of our comfort zones at a time when we could have simply held the line in the hope of a sunnier future. As she has continued to remind us, she will transition out of our daily lives as we prepare to welcome our new shepherd.
If all of this sounds like a lot, it is. I don’t know about you, but this whole transition thing is hard. It can wear you down. I know God never gives us too much to bear, but last Sunday, I was running on empty.
And then I came to church.
Mother Shelley asked how we might answer this direct question: how do you maintain your hope? My blood ran a little cold. I was exhausted by weeks of decision-making and problem-solving. Her question sounded like a riddle of faith, and I was in no mood to fail. Then she made this simple suggestion. Reverse the question: don’t ask how do you maintain your hope but ask how are you living out the hope that God has for you.
How are you living out the hope that God has for you?
It’s a perspective that bears repeating: how are we demonstrating the love and hope God has for us in the way we live our lives, in the way we simply and humbly serve others and in the way we give God praise for the abundant blessings we enjoy?
Living into that question will break you down and break you open in the best possible ways. It happened to me last Sunday behind the organ console. It will fill you with gratitude. It will give you the long shot of your life from God’s viewpoint. It will remind you that all of the joy and sadness, the changes large and small, the love you show and the love you are shown are unavoidable and essential stops on our journey. They are all part of God’s call to each one of us and to all of us.
All are invited, both new and well acquainted, to join us on the journey here at Ascension. We are transitioning every day to be living examples of God’s hope for all of us. Help us tend the portion God has given us to travel together. Help us prepare for the travelers yet to come.
Take it from someone well-traveled, it’s so worth the trip.
David Cholcher works at God’s Love We Deliver where he oversees the production and delivery of over 1.2 million meals annually and the information systems that support all aspects of the 29-year-old agency’s mission.