Greetings in the name of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Time flies when you’re having fun! Here we are now officially into my second month at Oak Park: First. I am meeting more of you as the days and now weeks have gone by and I am anticipating new rhythms to emerge as we head into the Fall with all that will mean for the church and community. In the meanwhile, I have been reflecting on the charge that was set before me in last week’s Celebration of Appointment—allowing the sentiments to resonate in my heart and marinate my spirit.
To refresh that part of the worship experience on July 25, our Lay Leader Beverly Bochenek offered these words adapted from The United Methodist Book of Worship as representatives presented the various items that I then placed on the altar:
Rev. Reid, accept this Bible,
and be among us as one who proclaims the Word. Amen. – Presented by Anna Kaegi
Rev. Reid, take this water,
and baptize new Christians in this place. Amen. Presented by Alice Boomhower
Rev. Reid, take this bread and cup,
and keep us in communion with Christ and his Church. Amen. Presented by Karen Choi and Lucas Dungan
Rev. Reid, take this plumb line,
and faithfully call us toward ministries of compassion and justice. Amen. Presented by Wayne Feehan
Rev. Reid, use this hymnal and book of worship
to guide us in our prayer and praise. Amen. Presented by Jean Edwards
Rev. Reid, receive this Book of Discipline,
and help us keep the covenant that strengthens our connections as United Methodists. Amen. Presented by Elizabeth Loudermilk
Rev. Reid, receive this globe, and lead us in our mission to this community and all the world. Amen. Presented by Billie Woodard
Rev. Reid, receive this blanket and feel yourself surrounded by the Spirit when you need strength and comfort. Amen. Presented by Neville Reid
Rev. Reid, receive this stole, signifying your ordination,
and shepherd us as our pastor. Amen. Presented by Rev. Ed Hiestand.
All of these roles, I assume willingly and with humility before God as I pledge to do my best to lead the flock God has sent me to serve. Each task is for the building of the body of Christ and the advancement of God’s Kingdom on earth. Of the items presented, however, there are two in particular that I want to lift up here.
The first is the plumb line. Unless you are in the construction business, you may not be familiar with what a plumb line is or the objective it is used to achieve. A plumb line is a cord with a weight attached to one end. When the weight is allowed to hang freely, gravity provides for an exact vertical line to be determined. This objective measuring tool is used to help ensure what is being built is properly aligned. The Bible offers several references to a plumb line and its relationship to the builder and what is being built. In Isaiah 28:16, the Lord is the builder: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation.” We know from revelation elsewhere in the Bible that Jesus is the “cornerstone” (Mark 12:10; Acts 4:11; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6). “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line.” (Is. 28: 17). In other words, Jesus is not only the cornerstone, and the structure which is built upon him, the church, is to be void of sin and misalignment with God’s values.
Another passage involving a plumb line is outlined in the book of Zechariah. When the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, they began to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The work stalled and God sent prophets Zechariah and Haggai to encourage the people to finish the project. The message was do not be discouraged by small beginnings. God will be with you in the rebuilding, with Zerubbabel the governor overseeing the project. “Whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Zecharaiah 4:10.
As we think about the work ahead of us as we “rebuild the temple” after Covid and all the changes in the church and the world, may we not become discouraged as we start small. Perhaps any of us is here now for such a time as this. Our charge is to align ourselves with the architect of the building, while planting ourselves firmly on the cornerstone. Our motives should be aligned with the plumb line of justice, mercy and all the characteristics of God who we are called to imitate (Ephesians 5:1).
As I strive to align my vision with God’s vision for our local church and the Church universal, I am reminded that God is with me and us by the Lord’s Prayer engraved on a plate that Pastor Ed had made for this occasion and attached to the end of the plumb line. I am so grateful for the kindness embodied in that gesture, Pastor Ed. Thank you.
Similarly, another item that was presented that will remind me of God’s presence here with me and with us at FUMCOP is the blanket that was carefully and thoughtfully hand-knitted by Beverly. Thank you so much, Beverly, as well! What a lovely reflection of the gracious spirit that I have found here. Yes, I have already felt surrounded by the Spirit when I have needed strength and comfort even during these days of transition. I hope the sentiments expressed will continue to grow and flourish, not just for my sake, but for all those God intends to be blessed by and through the ministry here.
So, friends, the building has begun. Thank you to all those who have already put on their hard hats and fastened their tool belts and those who are thinking of ways they can get involved. God is with us. Let’s go!
See you soon,
With hope in Jesus,
Rev. Adonna D. Reid