Update from Rev. Chris Henry - January 1, 2021
Dear Second Presbyterian Church,
The calendar has turned and the New Year 2021 greets us – it has arrived! Together, we have moved into a season of fresh beginnings, resolutions and, I pray, renewed hope. As I shared with the members of our Session and Staff yesterday, the turning of a page from one year to the next always offers the opportunity to remember and to dream. In this liminal space at the hinge of years, I seek time to rest and reflect, to bless what has been and to pray for clarity of vision for what lies ahead. I want to share some of these thoughts with you on the very first day of this New Year.
In December 2019, I wrote to the leaders of our church with deep gratitude and a strong sense of expectation. I described Second as a community of faith on the precipice of something significant in our life and ministry together. I did not know, could not have known, that the year 2020 would offer unprecedented challenges for us as a congregation, just as it has for each of us individually and for our collective life in its various forms. My reflections on 2020 include much grief over the many losses we have experienced, the separation we have endured, the suffering of many near to us and many more around the world, the injustices revealed, the divisions made worse, the wounds deepened.
Still, I do not find myself lacking in reasons for gratitude upon the close of an historic year. The revelations of 2020 include abundant discoveries of the goodness of humanity, the strength we find in community, the sustenance provided by faith, the durability of hope, and the trustworthy grace of God. More than once, I have reflected on all that our forebears at Second Presbyterian Church endured and the reality that what carried them through those crises is available to us as well. Last year was a year for learning experientially the truth of God’s word to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you; my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Faced with the reality of our weakness, we have found strength in God’s grace and in our shared identity as disciples of Jesus Christ.
I find myself deeply grateful for your spirit of adaptability, collaboration, mutual trust, and appreciation for the way our God can weave joy, laughter, sorrow, anticipation, and wonder into the journey of faith, even in the most difficult times. We have found the courage to do the next right thing, to take the next step together, and, in so doing, have rediscovered what has always been the heart of our faith and our common life: a resilient trust in the steadfast grace of God, an unshakable belief that we belong to one another, an abiding call to be a community of character defined by Christlike love, a charge to be ambassadors for Christ, repairers of the breach and servants of all.
Rather than a list of predictions and resolutions for 2021, I will offer a metaphor that has resided in the back of my mind since mid-March when a friend shared an article that included this simple and arresting image/question. What if this pandemic is a portal? A portal is simply a gateway, a threshold, a delineation between what has been and what will be. If we think of 2020 in this way, it might inform our prayers, inspire our discernment, challenge our plans, deepen our dreams for this New Year. As we move from one chapter of life into the next, what do we want to carry with us? What can be left in the past? What new possibilities await, if only our vision is unclouded by expectation and our hands are free to receive them? As we walk together into this never-before-lived moment in human history, I pray that we will have the courage and humility, as individuals and as a community, to pray with open hearts and trust the God who is always ahead of us, beside us, and with us as we journey in faith. I pray that we will continue to live boldly into our God-given identity as a welcoming community of faith where Jesus Christ transforms lives.
As you prayerfully reflect on what has been and boldly dream of God’s future, please know how grateful I am to serve with you at Second Presbyterian Church. We are a family of faith and, together, we begin again in 2021.
With peace and grace,
A welcoming community of faith where Jesus Christ transforms lives