by Phil Miller–
In my first sermon, I expressed my wish to get to know you. Not merely to get acquainted. Not only to learn of your interests, hobbies, and skills. But to hear the story of your faith development, of your relationship with First Christian, of your hopes for the church.
Let me share my own answers to these questions as a starting point. I’ll aim to fill in the three blanks implied by my questions:
- My faith development has family roots that are very deep. I could tell you about great-grandparents (to the fourth and fifth generations), or I could explain the influence of my three older siblings, and I’ll probably tell you all about that sooner or later. However, John the Baptist said (in Matthew 3:9), “Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” So, I’ve never been satisfied with a second-hand faith. I had a rather significant confrontation with the Holy One years ago, and from that seed, the tree of my faith has grown, has spread its roots and branches, has been pruned, and, I hope, has borne fruit.
- My relationship with First Christian is brand-new! You’ve made a terrific first impression. As a newcomer, I’ll tell you about my relationship with the larger church. I was born into and reared in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). After my sophomore year of high school, I went on a three-week mission/study tour with the United Christian Missionary Society to Mexico. After my junior year of high school, I spent three weeks in Puerto Rico, where I attended the World Convention of the Christian Churches. After my senior year, I started college at Texas Christian University, our largest church-affiliated school. While pursuing my graduate studies at Southern Methodist University, I served on the staff of Central Christian Church in Dallas. For me, our denomination has become like an extended family with all of its diversity.
- My hopes for the church as I begin my third interim pastorate are for God to give us hearts willing to let solid ground be broken for the planting of new seeds, and wisdom to discern which fields need to be turned and which need to be left fallow; for God to provide us with tools and determination to prune away what no longer bears fruit, and wisdom to refrain from pruning those branches with the potential to flourish. And that through it all, we will not grow weary or anxious, but will trust God to give us a fresh vision.
More and more to come!