As 2016 draws to a close, we find ourselves once again starting up a new liturgical year with that old friend, Advent, as our spiritual guide and companion. This year, the December lectionary features several wonderful readings from the prophet Isaiah about the things God promises for the future of His people. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks.” “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, . . .and a little child shall lead them.” “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.” “They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
As we read these beautiful words, full of hope and promise, we cannot help but wonder when this time of perfect fulfillment will happen. As we gaze at the world, both here in our own community and around the globe, it is hard to see that we are making any progress toward the Kingdom of God. Anger and disappointment seem to be in the ascendancy among Americans, rather than the feelings of excitement and joy that we associate with Advent and Christmas. Yet, here in our own worshiping community we are beginning to see a new dawn on the horizon. We are shaping our future together, and we are glimpsing a bright future for God’s people on the south shore of Long Island. We want to share this positive vision with each other and with our neighbors.
In order to begin this process of sharing, which I trust will be inspirational and motivating for us, we can take as our starting point the “Plumbline” planning document that our Mission Planning Committee has written. This is a three part plan. Part One, in which we identify who we are, was printed in last month’s newsletter. This December issue includes part II of the plan in which we look at our local communities and define our concerns about those communities, thus providing the context for our mission. Within the next few days, part 3 of the study, in which we define our mission, that is, what we hope to be and to do as a newly unified congregation, will be available for review and discussion.
The full report will be presented to a joint session meeting on Sunday, December 4. Assuming that a final version is approved there, we expect to present the report to Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry in January or February, with final approval by Presbytery in March. We will then be able to proceed to the “nuts and bolts” of our congregational merger. I want all members of the Massapequa and Levittown churches to read our planning document, comment on it, and, I hope, become as excited as I am about the prospects for our new, unified congregation.
In the meantime, enjoy the season! Take time out of your business to treat yourself and those near and dear to you. Let us all thank God for this community of Christians that supports us and surrounds us with love.