In addition to it being the First Sunday of Advent, we kicked off our 300th Anniversary celebration on Sunday, complete with confetti and the Fire Department hanging a “300 Years” banner across the top of the building. The video from the livestream isn’t the best – we had all sorts of internet problems on Sunday, but we did the best we could!
A couple of videos this week – the regular worship video, a pre-recorded Hanging of the Greens that we put together and some footage of the fire department hanging our banner.
Peace be with you, friends!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
November 29, 2020
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Kicking Off Our 300th Anniversary Celebration
I have to admit, I had a little bit of a hard time psyching myself up for this Sunday.
The thing is, I have tried to have a pretty good attitude about missing out on things this year because of the pandemic; but so much of Christmas is – and has always been – wrapped up in church for me. And so it was hard to imagine not kicking off the Advent season by piling into the church building, singing, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and parading all of the greens into the sanctuary for our beloved Hanging of the Greens worship service.
But two things happened this week that gave me some perspective.
The first is that I started to plan and piece together our virtual Hanging of the Greens worship service, which was prerecorded and is scheduled to post at 10:30 this morning, at the conclusion of our livestream. And it is so good; it is not necessarily the same as it has been in year’s past, but it came together in such a simple, yet powerful way.
Working on this service and seeing the final product come together proved to me, yet again, that God is just never finished; and that we can create beautiful and meaningful things, despite this time of distancing.
The second is the fact that, while today is the first Sunday of Advent, it is also the birthday of the Rehoboth Congregational Church. On this day, 299 years ago, the Rehoboth Congregational Church was incorporated. Today we officially kick off our 300th anniversary celebration. Members of the 300th Anniversary Committee are in attendance this morning to reveal the 300th Anniversary logo.
And here’s the thing – our work continues. Despite this pandemic and the chaos it has caused, our work continues. Our work to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ continues. Our work to shine God’s light into the world continues. Our work to love people the way Christ loves us continues. Our work to wait for the arrival of the Christ child continues. Our work to believe that our cries for Emmanuel will be heard continues. Our work to do church here at the Rehoboth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, continues.
Paul says in his letter to the church in Corinth that “God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” These are words that we so desperately need to hear today. We need to be reminded that God is faithful. We need to be reminded that by God we are called into the fellowship of Jesus Christ.
And we need to rise up to this call, especially right now when the world so desperately needs to know what the fellowship of Jesus Christ is and how it can transform their lives.
Remember that Paul is writing to a Corinthian community that is deeply divided. But he believes in the power of the Gospel. He believes the Gospel can and will bring healing and wholeness amidst the turmoil this community is facing. He believes the Gospel will move mountains and transform hearts.
I think the people who founded this church had those same hopes and dreams for this congregation. I think they knew that this church could be the foundation that the Rehoboth community needed; that this church would be the foundation where faith, hope, outreach and love blossomed. They knew that this church could conquer anything – even a global pandemic – and still refuse to let anything else but love win.
Paul says that not only has Jesus enriched the Corinthians, but that the testimony of Jesus is strengthened because of the Corinthians. Isn’t that amazing to think about? That not only can Jesus enrich us – that our lives can be strengthened by our relationship with Jesus – but that we, too can strengthen the testimony of Jesus.
Friends, we have as much of a role to play in sharing and strengthening the Gospel as Jesus’ disciples did; as the Corinthians did when Paul wrote them this letter; and as the founding members of this church, the Rehoboth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ did on November 29, 1721.
And so we are ready. We are ready to kick off this Advent season and begin our journey towards the manger, but we are also ready to kick off our 300th anniversary celebration so that we can celebrate the ways this congregation has strengthened the Gospel of Jesus Christ over the past 300 years and dream about the ways that we can continue to strengthen it in the future. We are ready to showcase our congregation to the community, not as a way to boast about who we are, but as a way to boast about who God is.
The 300th celebration might not look like what we initially envisioned when we started meeting last year, but God is faithful. And God is good.
So, members and friends of the Rehoboth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ – our beloved Church in the Village – together, we are called into the fellowship of Jesus Christ. We give thanks for those who have come before us and we give thanks this moment in time – as strange as it is – where we can celebrate our deep history and wait with wonder to see what God has in store for us for the future.
Suffice it to say, I am psyched up now – and I hope you are too. Friends, let us – together – begin our 300thAnniversary celebration on this first Sunday of Advent, in the year of the Lord, 2020.
Thanks be to God!