A New Year's Reflection.
December the 31st is here once again, another year…another decade has passed us by. So, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past year at Holly Grove Christian Church and in the Holly Grove community, as well as to look at the possibilities the future holds for us.
2019 was in many ways a bittersweet year for the community of faith called Holly Grove Christian Church, as are many years. We rejoiced together at the births of new babies and shared in the glow of the new parents and grandparents, we have met and embraced new members and fellow seekers, and we have dreamed the big dreams together of what our future can be. But with this abundance of Love came also the pain of loss as we bid farewell to the earthly vessels of our beloved former Pastor, beloved family members, brothers and sisters, young and old. They have traveled the path that one day we must all follow, and the Love that they shared with us in their life and in their passing sustains us until we meet again in the presence of the Lord.
Together we have begun laying the foundation for our future, not only as a church, but as a community. Our mission at Holly Grove as Disciples of Christ is to be a beacon of Hope and Love in our community and in our world, and this mission has gained new strength in the previous year and decade. If there ever was a time that the world needed Hope and Love, this is it that time! In the past year we have continued our work of loving and helping our neighbors through the work of the Christian Women’s Fellowship, The Pruner’s, and the Crafting Mission Circle. Children and families in our area were able to receive not only the gifts of school supplies, clothes, food, and toys but also the most important gift of all, the gift of Love and friendship. For some of our neighbors and the children at Fairwinds & Bon Air this may have been the first time they ever felt the Love and friendship of someone. Building on this and the fundamental truth that Children are the future of our church, community, and nation we have opened our doors to the Cub Scouts and an Odyssey of the Mind (OM) team. Additionally, at the end of January we will dedicate our new Children’s Sanctuary and begin a Children Worship & Wonder program which will help children connect with God and one another through Montessori methods building upon the natural spirituality of children.
In our community at large we have also felt the loss of both of our stores, and the fellowship that could be found sitting around the stove at Kersey’s and the breakfast table at Owens Creek (I still call it Nick’s and probably always will). We have seen neighbors move away and new neighbors move in, as well as more new houses and development. The world around us constantly changing and evolving. I wonder though, how are we doing at meeting these new neighbors? Are we doing all we can to welcome them to the Holly Grove community? This is a question not just for our church, but all the churches and organizations of the Holly Grove community. Can we truly Love our neighbor and be an inclusive community if we do not go out and meet them and invite them to be a part of our lives and organizations? I once read a statistic somewhere that said 60% of people surveyed who did not attend church would be receptive to attending if someone were to personally invite them. Wow, can you imagine the possibilities if 6 out of 10 people a Church, Ruritan, or the Rescue Squad and Fire Department member personally invited to be a part of the community accepted that invitation? Relationships are the key, not only the relationships between two people, but the relationships between all the religious and civic organizations of our area. Working together, Loving together, grieving together, and uplifting one another is what it is all about…that is a community.
So, what does our future hold for us, individually, as a church, and as a community at large? That choice is ours to make, it begins with our perception of each other, our perception of what it means to be a Disciple of Christ, and our willingness to get out of our comfort zone and do the work that needs to be done. We must accept that things change, and we must be able to change as well to meet the needs of the times. We cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear of failure, fear of pain, or the fear of the unknown for as Christians we have faith that God will direct us and through that faith our souls are secured against any harm in this life or the next. We need to work harder to look past race, nationality, political affiliation, gender, socio-economic status, religion, and all the other labels we create to separate “us” from “them” and see each other for what we truly are… children of God, created by God. Human beings who Love, Laugh, and hurt…who have dreams, fears, and pain. There is so much work to be done. For those out there who feel worn down and worn out, who are on the edge of “burn out”, who sometimes become bitter because it feels no one else will help… I say to you stay the course, keep it up, your burden is only as heavy as you make it out to be and is lighter than the burden carried by Jesus to the top of Golgotha… but through you and your work, his light shines as a beacon to others. For those of you who have not committed your life to the service of others yet, I simply ask that you take that step, that you join your brothers and sisters in building and strengthening our community, that you put aside your fear and trust in God and each other, for only together, bonded in the chains of Love can we fulfill our sacred mission.
Andrew Rose, Deacon