Pastor Dan Hollis
With our virtual Annual Meeting coming up this Sunday (February 28 at 10AM, contact the office for access), I find myself reflecting on each of the last three Annual Meetings I have been here for at First Parish. Truly, this year was unlike any other in our lives, and this year’s Annual Meeting will be unlike any this church has ever had. Yet for all the differences, the heart of it will be the same. The shape of our ministry may change year to year, but nothing can change the Spirit at the center of it.
I had occasion to look back at my submissions to the Annual Reports of years past, and reading through them, a thought struck me. I’d like to share with you a small quote from each; I wonder if you see what I see.
February 2018: “We’ve laughed together, cried together, celebrated together, and sent loved ones on their way together. My heart is as full as my schedule. I am looking forward to another year of deepening relationships and continuing opportunities to faithfully serve all with compassion and grace.”
February 2019: “This was a year of complexities and joys, of challenges and triumphs alike, and a year that has set the stage for so much growth and beauty in the years to come… All we have accomplished is because of you. You are God’s hands and feet in this church, in this community, and in this world.”
February 2020: “I can only say how privileged I am to worship with and serve all of you in this place. It is a true joy, and every month that goes by is an experience of spiritual fulfillment for me. From the people I get to work with to the people I get to work for, I am surrounded by people of great faith, moving stories, and inspiring character.”
The thought I had? “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Any of those quotes could (and do) refer to this year. I could have written them in February 2021. But I didn’t. I wrote them every year I’ve been here, and I have no doubt I will write them every year until I’m gone. It doesn’t matter what the Universe throws at us, God will always be with us and at work through us.
That’s it. That’s the Oasis.
Jesus stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:17-22
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.