The question is appropriately posed, does FUMC’s 2020 vision change now that Rev. Williams is leaving?
In our January sermon series, we studied the Old Testament book of Joshua. In this series we learned that the vision for a different future doesn’t lie with one person, but instead a community of individuals who decide to complete the arduous journey towards the vision; especially, in spite of the challenges.
The 2020 Vision sermon series taught us the following:
I [Caleb] was 40 years old when I first served the Lord. After a long journey I’m now 85, and I am still as strong today as I was then to serve the Lord. ~ paraphrased Joshua 14:7-11
A vision for a different future is, in part, made a reality because of our willingness to stay the course – no matter our age. Every age, every person, every disciple of Christ, every worshipper of FUMC Westfield is valued. Your past experiences have given insight and access, and these things are useful in helping this congregation in our long journey together. Like Caleb, you are asked to serve so that the strength you have will help our congregation fulfill our 2020 vision.
Joshua said, choose to serve foreign gods or the God who has been with us and our families throughout the journey…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. ~ paraphrased Joshua 24:15
A vision for a different future is, in part, made a reality because we make choices. Life is full of choices, right!? And, with each choice – even the difficult ones, we pray that we are making decisions that will prove beneficial for ourselves and those near to us. As the Israelites gathered at the edge of the Promised Land, they had to make a choice: do what everyone else is doing – by serving foreign gods – or serve the God that gave the vision a better tomorrow. Our congregation is comprised of households – we all make up FUMC Westfield. Cliché, yes, but we truly are stronger together, and we’re Holy Spirit strong when each household chooses to serve the Lord. 2020 vision is fulfilled because each household chooses to help make this vision a reality.
During change and heartache, the Lord spoke: “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ paraphrased Joshua 1:9
A vision for a different future is, in part, made a reality because we hear the Lord’s words – even when the difficulties of life are present. Many times, we want to give up when things change; when the driving force behind our progress ends; when success seems bleak. During those times, the voice of doubt is loud, but that’s okay, because the voice of the Lord never stops speaking to us. Being strong and courageous doesn’t come because we’re physically or mentally strong enough, these divine traits take shape in our lives because our faith is tuned-in to the words of the Lord. 2020 vision is fulfilled by hearts that perk up when, “the Lord speaks”.
Therefore, let us now build an altar to be a witness between us that shows our togetherness in serving the Lord. ~ paraphrased Joshua 22:26 & 27
A vision for a different future is, in part, made a reality because communication and focus are valued. When division and war between families – varying tribes of Israel – was to occur over the building of an altar by certain tribes of Israel, calmer heads prevailed because people knew what mattered the most: remaining together despite being divided. Our 2020 vision may not ever get 100% support from every member, worshipper, and disciple of Christ, but when we value communication and focus on the goal, that is, ensuring current and future generations come to know the love of God that is in Jesus Christ, then we can find ways to remain together in spite of being divided.
This community is a Holy Spirit led community. I have been lucky to serve alongside of you. So, to answer the above question, does the 2020 vision for FUMC Westfield die because my appointment has changed? I hope we can all answer that question with a resounding, No! Though some change is in the air, God’s vision for this community is Holy Spirit inspired and led, and I am confident you will continue to serve in such a way as to fulfill the vision.
You’re always invited to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you haven’t attended worship in a while, please come back. There is a place for you.
Continue to Serve,
Rev. William M. Williams, III