Celebrating 60 Years of God’s Grace at Elmhurst Presbyterian Church
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today. Let us begin. - Mother Teresa
Last week, as we were in the thick of things for Christmas Eve service, I stopped to look through a bulletin someone had given me from January, 1959. This wasn’t just any bulletin, though, it was a bulletin celebrating the dedication of our church building, exactly 60 years ago this month. Not many of our current membership was present for that service, though a few were. The bulletin has a liturgy for blessing our church building as well as a detailed description of some of the features of our sanctuary — the symbols of the windows, and the symbols carved in to our communion table. As I flipped through the bulletin and pointed it out to some of the members of our congregation, it looked both familiar and dated. There were names of some of the pillars of our church: men and women who have given time, talent, and treasure to EPC for years. As I looked through that dedication bulletin I wondered “What would the people who were here for that dedication service think of our congregation today?”
Certainly many things are different now, 60 years later. The music is different (no more organ). The language is different (very few “thee”s and “thou”s.) And yet, things are very much the same. We still preach the gospel of Jesus. We are still bound by community, grace, mission, and God’s word. We still love each other, deeply, and aim to share that love with the world.
I wonder what things have been tried and failed in the past 60 years of our congregation’s life on the corner of Spring Road and St. Charles Road? Awhile ago I came across a funny article on the website “NeatoRama.” The article was called “10 Foods that (Thankfully) Flopped.” Among the failed experiments were: The Chicken Dinner Candy Bar, Coffee Flavored Jell-o, and Baby Food for Adults. It’s funny to think of the marketing execs who dreamed up these silly ideas. At the same time, there are other wild and crazy food items that have really taken off: spray cheese, vegetarian buffalo wings (I love those!) and deep fried butter. My point is that sometimes you don’t know if something will be a hit or a miss until you try it.
I know that as we move forward into the next 60 years of ministry at EPC, things will look different for those who come after us. The best we can hope for, though, is that we continue to try new things and move forward in faith, bravely.
January is a time of new beginnings and goals. In just a few weeks, the session will be meeting to talk about our goals for 2019 and beyond. We will be looking at our finances, our building, and our ministry objectives. How will God work and move through us to bring the good news to our neighbors? A faithful look into the future will always seek to look at the past by examining where God has led us this far. That idea reminds me of Kierkegaard’s great quote: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Happy New Year, Friends!