My sermon last Sunday focused on one of the great lines in Paul’s epistles: “Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). The apostle reminds us that the accomplishment of any worthy, challenging task requires perseverance – not “giving up” when we “grow weary.” This is true of great moral endeavors, like overcoming racism and sexism; it is equally true of the practical projects we undertake at home, work, school, and church.
One of our current strategic goals as a congregation is to “finish the sanctuary.” Last year, we began making specific improvements to our worship space. The intent was not to change its essential character as a handsome, historic New England church, but rather to make it more versatile as a worship venue and more attractive and comfortable for those who gather there. We made a strong start by purchasing a refurbished pipe organ, refinishing the church pews, putting in a new audio-visual system, and installing stronger ceiling fans. All that remained to get us to the finish line was new carpeting to replace our present patchwork design. Realizing that goal became a possibility when an anonymous church member donated the necessary money – an extraordinarily generous gift!
Installation of the new carpeting will begin this week and continue through the month of July. The timing could not be better. We had already scheduled an outdoor worship service on the 28th, sponsored by the Open Doors Ministry Team. The services on July 14 and 21 will be moved to Fellowship Hall – a small price to pay for the finished product taking shape upstairs.
“Finishing the sanctuary” is something truly to be celebrated, not only because it promises to enhance our worship experience but also because it reflects the perseverance of those who have spearheaded this project. The Sanctuary Design Committee and the Board of Trustees have held countless meetings, done much research, worked with a variety of vendors, and invested long hours of volunteer labor to help us reach our ultimate goal. You as a congregation followed suit by giving money to a capital campaign and giving time (and sweat!) to this important cause. Yes, we’ve endured delays and discouragement, but we did not give up when we grew weary! Thanks to all of you for persevering!
Alas, I will not be around when the finishing touches are applied to the sanctuary floor. Several months ago, I scheduled a spiritual retreat for the week of July 12-19 at the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California – a spectacular place that has been on my “bucket list” for years. I will then take a vacation week with my brother Paul in northern California. Two other beloved Pauls – Beavers, Sr. and Hibbard – will preach at WUMC in my absence. I covet your prayers as I seek refreshment for my spirit and look forward to returning to a finished sanctuary!
Grace and peace,