December 31 – For Auld Lang Syne

auld lang syneFirst things first. They say that “auld lang syne” is literally the “old long since.” Of course the old long since is best celebrated in the Robert Burns poem of the same name and the song version of the poem. Thanks to Guy Lombardo, the tune of Auld Lang Syne has become synonymous with New Year’s Eve and our farewell to the old year as it becomes the old long since.

But before 2013 is the old long since, maybe we should pause for just a moment and give it its due.

As far year-end reviews go, I am still partial to columnist Dave Barry whose 2013 edition lives up to my expectations.

I’ll let the humorist cover the world and the nation. How about LPC and our life together?  I think it was a good year. The unofficial number crunching shows us ending the year with a modest budget surplus, with worship attendance and membership up, with growing commitment to mission beyond our doors and study and nurture within our walls.

The best of our life is not summed up in numbers, though, nor is it marked my memorable events (though there were many, and I’ll list a few in just moment).

The best of our life together is marked by a pattern of gathering and then scattering:

  • Gathering for worship Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day. We met at the Pulpit and at the Table to hear and seal the Word. We lifted our voices in praise and listened as bells and choirs, cantatas and worship teams expressed faith on our behalf. More than anything else, and especially in our world, our habit of worship sets us aside as God’s peculiar people. Our world knows nothing else like Christian worship. This is who we are.
  • Gathering for Bible study and conversations about biblical discipleship.  For me our men’s midweek study on Wednesday mornings, the 8:01 classes in summers and Thursday night Faith Acts series have been amazing times of learning and connecting. There are so many other opportunities that serve this same purpose for so many others of you.
  • Gathering for fellowship and the building of friendships. Here it is the Faith Acts dinner that means most to me, but also coffee after worship and conversations in the hallways. We’ve played softball and tag football, watched baseball and shared potlucks. We went to youth group and small groups. This is who we are.
  • Scattering for service in Christ’s name. LPC folks have traveled to Guatemala, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Cameroon, Brazil and the Philippines; to Penndel and Hunting Park, New Orleans and Trenton. This is who we are.
  • Scattering for caring in Christ’s name. We have come along side friends mourning the death of loved ones and praying for the healing of friends and family members. We have walked and talked with those traveling hard and dangerous journeys and have celebrated baptisms and weddings as participants rather than as spectators. Some of us became Stephen Ministers.  This is who we are.
  • Scattering for sharing Christ’s name. As our membership grows it is due in part, at least, to our willingness to share Christ and his family at LPC with those whose lives touch ours. We have seen friends and family members introduced to LPC and they have found a church home with us. Some have found that One for whom their restless hearts had been longing.

Seriously, what we do in season and out, day by day and week by week, is who we are and what made 2013 a very good year.

But we also:

  • Celebrated our 125th anniversary
  • Confirmed another group of young disciples
  • Commissioned missionaries from among us
  • Experienced an amazingly wonderful Vacation Bible School
  • Stocked kitchens in Burundi, the supply closet at HPCA, the food pantry at BGHC and a toy store in our basement
  • Heard the encouraging testimony of a son of our congregation who taught us about forgiveness, grace and sovereignty
  • Remembered the lives and celebrated the faith of two long-time members – while a number of us also mourned the death of a loving parent

It was a good year and it was powerful year

As 2013 fades into the old long since, we thank God for his promises, presence and power in this year.

So long, 2013.