In loving am I loved
In forgiving do I find myself forgiven
In blessing are we blessed
In giving do we find ourselves full
I’ve been contemplating the future, of late. The reason? Most likely the reality that I’m going to be a grandparent, contemplating a little one, the next generation, a continuation of our family. I wonder at the model of parent I’ve been: good? Good enough? Sufficient? Other? – However, whatever I’ve been able to provide, whether instruction, lessons, or material, my son will now take, remember, embrace, discard, as he sees fit – as he and his spouse feel lead to do so. The choices they now make as parents will be made upon the foundation we have been able to provide for them, we wish them well and are praying for them as they begin this new family. Exciting and fun to imagine where they’ll be in 5 years or 10-20 years.
Turning my sights to 1st Phoenix: where will we, be in 5 years? God willing, another 10-20 years? There are some of us who are wondering where we’ll be in a year.
Funny thing about anticipating and looking into the future, it seems to drawn me to wax nostalgically, well how did we get where we are now? Upon what foundation “do we live and move and have our being”?(to quote the Apostle Paul.) Yes, in broad strokes, we stand upon the foundation God’s grace in Jesus Christ affords us. But more specifically, and more directly – we stand on the evidence of others’ (preceding generations) faithfulness with the gifts and talents God brought through them.
I’ve had opportunity of late to share about the church history: chartered in August of 1875 [139 years this year if my math is correct] and building built in 1927-28. I’m not sure in which conversation; it might have been the group from the High School that volunteered to help clean out the basement; I’m not sure. But it sparked the question: What if folk had hesitated and stalled and pushed off building the community space we now worship in? Had they put it off for a year? A couple of years? That would have put the construction into the beginning of the Great Depression, 1929. How would that have impacted folks’ faith and trust and sense of stewardship of the gifts and talents God had given them? I’d like to think that even in that economically challenged time period, our forbearers would have stepped out in faith, trusting God to see them through even through financially difficult times. I wonder if any of them looked back in 1929, at the building they’d just had built and thought, “was spending this money a mistake?” The reality is, the church building was built and has stood at the center of this Phoenix community since.
I’m reminded at this point of the ‘Footprints’ poem, the story of the person looking back over their life, noting those places where there were two sets of footprints and places where there were but one set. The message of the poem, is those times where the single set of prints was evident are the times when Christ was carrying the individual through the tough-times to a place of greater stability and strength.
Many of us can look back through our lives and see how the church (this particular congregation maybe) has been that source of strength and stability walking, nay, carrying us through tough times and are so very grateful for its presence in our lives and the life of this community. In these times of reflective gratitude, we can be mindful that this presence of Christ’s Body, First Phoenix, is with gratitude to the ways men and women have sought to faithfully share the blessed resources God has given them throughout the se years, giving selflessly in life and generously in death.
I invite us to be prayerfully thankful for the footprint of God’s grace that is First Phoenix and for the ways that it is expanding, growing, and deepening. And as we do, might we imagine how it is that folks in 5 years or 10-20 years might look upon our stewardship with similar gratitude to the God, in whom we live and move, and have our being.