Pastor Mark’s eNote – When July is January
United Methodists are different. For instance, we have at least two calendars (We could probably come up with several, but let’s keep it to two here). There’s the one we share with the rest of the world that begins January 1, and there’s another that begins six months later … or earlier … kind of.
So, happy New Year. Or maybe I should say “happy anniversary.” July 1 is the official date by which clergy appointments are measured in our conference (even though clergy actually move in June, but if that’s confusing, remember we’re Methodists). So, we have officially turned the page on another year, and I have begun my third year in ministry here at HMUMC.
I’ll leave it to you to answer that quintessentially American question, “Are you better off today than you were, in this case, two years ago?” I can only answer for myself by saying that it is good to come home from annual conference to a third year with you. I am thankful for the partnership I enjoy with my fellow clergy here and with our gifted and faithful staff. I am thankful for the amazing lay leadership of this church and the knowledge and wisdom you bring to our ministry. I am thankful for new faces in our midst, for the glorious moments of baptism and profession of faith, for the hugs of small children, and for students who are serving even now and growing as marvelous Christian leaders.
I am thankful for the two years I enjoyed with Jonathan Andersen, and I am excited for his new ministry at Harvest Point. And, finally, I’m thankful for the moments and ministry yet to happen with Natalee Dukes Hamby. This July 1 marks the beginning of her work among us, the beginning of her commissioned ministry in the North Georgia Annual Conference, and a new beginning for us, her church. It is a unique, beautiful, and holy moment. All things are made new.
So, as we step into our new year half-way through the old year, the old-and-forever-new calling remains: Share Christ, love others, build the kingdom—one ministry, one day, one encounter, one moment, one breath, at a time. This church life is good stuff. It is life shared in love; it is grace upon grace; it is like no other gathering of people, no other voluntary organization, no other charity in the world. It is divinely created and empowered. And, best of all, God is with us. Happy New Year.