For several weeks we will be including in our scripture lessons during worship selections from the Exodus narrative. While Genesis is a story of beginnings, Exodus is a story of bondage and deliverance. Both parts of the Exodus story are important to remember. We are always in need of deliverance from powers we've chosen to serve and from powers which have ensnared us. We are a people always in search of a god who will be to and for us in ways we desire - ways which are not always helpful to us or to humanity.
The news is full of false gods these days. Many of these false gods remain attractive to us even though we know in heart of hearts that they cannot and do not compare to the God we've seen and heard in Jesus Christ. These false gods prey upon our need for security, our notions of success, our feelings of isolation, and our fragile egos which we protect at all cost. These false gods are willing to drain the life out of us and our neighbors if we but give them opportunity.
So, as Christ's followers, we must learn to speak "no" to these false gods and push back against them with the same force they seek to apply in the world. We should resist their unwelcome intrusion into the world created by God for the good of humanity with a word of hope, peace, faith, love and satisfaction that the God of Israel is indeed Lord of our lives. While this may challenge us from time to time it is the good purpose for which we were created. Like the Hebrews in the Exodus, our journey is one where God is leading and we are often seeking other paths to our redemption. We become misguided at times, not by God, but by our desires for a quick-fix, an elevated status, a painless end to our wandering. But, God lives with us in the deliverance as well as the trial, in the wilderness as well as the promised land. God is patient and calls us to trust.
Friends, this may be our wilderness moment as God's people - traveling a well-worn path of racial injustice on the way to a more equitable society. There are no quick-fixes but there's plenty of trial and tribulation. Seek God and live...trust in God who leads and guides us...and with daily fervor and strength call upon the name of God who is our help and salvation.
There are many things to report and many thing which are still in process. By now, many of you have heard and been a part of the Mission/Vision conversations which wrapped up at the end of August (Sunday, August 27 @ 1:30pm in the Sanctuary). These conversations will go forward with the Mission Study Team and then be presented to the Session in September to begin the work of aligning the mission and vision with the Session's leadership.
We still have groups wanting to come and partner with Milner in various ways. Recently, the Building and Grounds Committee heard a proposal from NC State about one of its programs wanting to partner with Milner on a pollinator garden in our front lot. We let them know that we'd like more information. As the academic year gets started, they are going to be in touch and we'll know more soon. If it proceeds, they would do all the work and planting as a classroom project with their students. Also, a group called the Raleigh Center is wishing to partner with us to bring a greater core of ministry to those in transition and crisis to southeast Raleigh by using some space upstairs. The Raleigh Center made a presentation at the August Session meeting. Action on their request is forthcoming.
All in all, we are moving forward even with challenging decisions up ahead. The Session needs to hear from you directly and indirectly. It needs to know where your heart and hands are for mission and ministry. As you interim Pastor, I hope to lead you well into and through this time and pray that God continues to bless my time with you. Thanks for your gift of call and work together in the name of Christ our Lord!
There's something growing around here... and you might say it's an idea about planting. The City of Raleigh is working on the New Bern Corridor with planned improvements over the next few years. One part of these improvements is a sidewalk on our side of New Bern Avenue.
We were approached by some interested community partners about participating in a joint effort through the City of Raleigh and NC State's school of horticulture with an interest to make outdoor classrooms a part of the Corridor project. NC State would bring its students out to the project areas off of New Bern to plan, design, prepare, and see pollinator garden areas. Ann Puryear, Gene Earp, and JD Stanley met with this group and were all in favor of beginning the process to gather more information and scope.
In the end, this would not cost the church anything but would bring activity and investment to the property. Furthermore, it would invite people from the community to come and see what is going on. There may be other additional opportunities that we've yet to think of...
Sunday, August 27th we will gather in the sanctuary again for the second of two congregational gatherings focused on our Mission and Vision. This meeting will be very important as we will take the decision from that meeting forward to the Session which will then begin working on an action plan to implement that Mission and Vision. Those actions will need your continued support in giving of time, talent, and finances.
If you have not seen the work we've done on this so far, please be sure to look at your most recent church newsletter. The lead article was on Community Conversations which highlights several areas of potential interest and reach for Milner at this time. Some of these require more from us than others. But, each of them require us to continue as a people of prayer focused on serving God by serving those whom God loves.
I look forward to our meeting later this month. If you don't have a copy of the report, please let someone in the church office know and one will be sent to you.