. .. but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26)
As we prepared to launch our capital campaign, Renewing our Spirit, Restoring Our Buildings, I realized I was not sure what the word “renewal” meant. Were we using it correctly? So I looked in the dictionary and the Bible. The dictionary said: to make new or like new; to take up again; to reaffirm, to restore physical or emotional vigor; to replenish. When the word was used in the Bible (“renewal” would be a translator’s choice for a Hebrew or Greek word) it also had the meaning of reaffirming, restoring and replenishing the spiritual life and commitment of a people to God.
That is, indeed, what we’re doing at Summit. We’re not reinventing ourselves, or taking a radical change in course – there’s no need to. When I arrived here two years ago, I found a church with a solid identity and sense of mission, a healthy church with excellent ministries. But I also detected some weariness. People were busy with many tasks, but often feeling disconnected from the spiritual calling that brought them here (a common situation, I might add, in small congregations with generous hearts and big buildings). Many people were speaking of the need for “renewal.” So, while we planned for the capital campaign (also, in shorthand, “The Renewal Campaign”) we also re-focused our vision for the future through discussions at retreats, potlucks and board meetings.
And we are seeing signs of renewal! In strong summer worship attendance; in the restoration of our youth group (an historically strong ministry of Summit, as evidenced by the many young people in our leadership who grew up here); in new leadership and excitement around evangelism; in the growth of Elder Diner and REACH; in exciting events planned for the fall; in the way folks have cared for each other recently in trying times; in the generous response to our call to “pay forward” 2010 pledges; and – last but not least – in the early financial commitments we’ve received to restore our building, perhaps the “weariest member” of the Summit community. We have reason to be encouraged.
But these are only the signs of renewal—Isaiah reminds us that renewal comes not from our own efforts but from waiting on the Lord. It’s through worship, prayer, Bible study, and other ways of opening ourselves to God’s presence that we find the strength to “mount up with wings like eagles” and deepen our commitment to Christ and his church. So as you plan events, teach Sunday School, consider your financial commitment, and attend board meetings, I encourage you to wait on the Lord. Come to worship every Sunday; take time each day for prayer; attend Bible study or read scripture on your own (please see me if you would like help with this) and find quiet times to simply be in the presence of God.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Cheryl Pyrch