Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am in awe about how a person’s situation can change so much in just a short time. About this time last year, John and I were arriving back in Florida after taking an eight-day cruise to the Caribbean. It was a great trip to Anti qua, St. Kitts and St. Thomas. And then we returned home to the church I was serving on Staten Island, NY.
A year ago, I was not thinking about my next church and certainly not thinking about moving to Michigan. Yet, 6 months later, taking a leap of faith, John and I were packing up our possessions and moving to Allegan.
It was fifty years ago when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. King’s ministry began in December 1955 when he was elected to lead a city-wide bus boycott following Rosa Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. For a man whose dream was to teach at a university, those 17 plus years not only changed the course of his life but the course of the civil rights movement in this country. He is best known for his dream speech where he said:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
And it was approximately 1,988 years ago when Jesus came to the Jordan River to be baptized by his cousin John the Baptist. From there he began a three-year ministry that would end with his death on a cross. Yet on the third day he rose from the grave. This one time act of love would change the course of the world and all the people who would take up their own cross in order to continue where he left off.
Jesus had knowledge of what lay ahead of him but for King, John, myself and all of us who follow Christ, we do not know from day-to-day what will happen to change the course of our lives forever. Sometimes there are good things, like accepting a call out-of-state or agreeing to lead a movement. Other times it can be the loss of a loved one, a job, a home or being diagnosed with a physical illness that set us back on our heels. In all the curve balls that life sometimes throws at us, the only thing we can do is put our trust and life in Jesus’ hands and let him be our guide. Let him show us the way. Something I hear Dr. Phil say from time to time is that we cannot see around corners. King had a similar thought when he said,
“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
In turn, I am awed how a congregation’s situation can change over time. Just like our individual lives, a congregation’s course can change on a daily basis. Sometimes there are gains and sometimes there are losses.
The one thing I do know is that God can see around corners, past blind spots and what lies at the top of the staircase. So if we just keep taking one step at a time, we will eventually reach our goals, supporting and encouraging each other along the way. And if we persevere, we may come to this time again next year in awe of what God has accomplished through and around us! May God continue to bless and support us with each new day!
I tank God for you,
Rev. Kathlyn R. Nealand
Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Allegan
Pastor Kathy Nealand