I am ready. Are you?

Today, Neshoba Church celebrated our 20th anniversary.  The actual anniversary happened in January.  Or maybe March.  It depends on what you count as the beginning.  The 1st service was held in January of 1992.  The charter, officially designating us as a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in North America  (also known as the UUA), was signed in March of 1992.  The reason we celebrated in April this year was due to scheduling issues.  The church’s first minister, Rev. Jean Rowe, who retired to North Carolina 7 years ago, was going to be in town this weekend, officiating at a wedding for a Neshoba family, so it made sense to tie the church’s celebration to the date that was convenient for her.

Because we are in transition, and don’t have a settled minister yet, our minister emerita was asked to lead the service.  A long-time member, Anthony Culver, helped plan the details, and Rev. Jean gave a lovely sermon that helped paint a picture of Neshoba’s past while reminding us that we need to continue working on a vision for the future.  Members of the youth group helped with parts of the service, making it truly multi-generational.

Jean spoke of three charges she gave the congregation at that very first service 2 decades ago. What she told them then holds true today as well.  First, we need to remember to hold each other with “care-full” compassion.  We are a family, and as such are bonded together, for better or worse, so we need to care for each other as we learn and grow.

Secondly, we need to heed the words of hymn #311 – Let it be a dance by Ric Masten.

Let it be a dance we do.
May I have this dance with you?
Through the good times
And the bad times, too,
Let it be a dance.

Let a dancing song be heard.
Play the music say the words,
Fill the sky with sailing birds.
Let it be a dance.
Learn to follow, learn to lead,
Feel the rhythm, fill the need.
To reap the harvest, plant the seed.
And let it be a dance.

Everybody turn and spin,
Let your body learn to bend,
and, like a willow with the wind,
Let it be a dance.

A child is born, the old must die,
A time for joy, a time to cry.
Take it as it passes by.
And let it be a dance.

 Morning star comes out at night,
Without the dark there is no light.
If nothing’s wrong, then nothing’s right.
Let it be a dance.
Let the sun shine, let it rain,
Share the laughter, bare the pain,
And round and round we go again.
Let it be a dance.

Together, we should always let our church life be like a dance – joyful and full of purpose – through the good times and the bad times too.

The third charge was to allow ourselves to occasionally step back from leadership roles, trust in each other, and go along for the ride.  As the line in the hymn says, we need to “learn to follow, learn to lead, / feel the rhythm, fill the need.”  There are times when we need to step up and take on responsibility for various aspects of the church and there are other times where we need to trust in the leadership of our fellow Neshobans.  Let others be the guide while we just help paddle the boat.

Hearing about the beginning of Neshoba has renewed my commitment to this special place.  The people who started Neshoba had a dream.  They worked hard to plan and build and grow from a seed planted 20 years ago into the community we are today. On this Earth Day weekend, it seems appropriate to continue that metaphor.  The roots of the church are strong, and the body is growing.  We need to feed the soul of the church, prune her branches where necessary to remain healthy, and protect her from the storms of life that threaten to do damage.  With care, she will continue to grow strong and stable and will shelter generations to come.

20 years into our story, we are at a crossroads, getting ready to bring in a new minister.  There are exciting opportunities ahead of us. We need to continue to work hard to achieve the vision the founding members set forth.  I am ready.  Are you?

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