“I Have a Dream”
90th Anniversary Celebration – November 25, 2018
I have a dream of a church that is so full of love and compassion that people throughout Penticton will talk about Penticton United Church as the love filled church.
I have a dream of our church being so committed to justice that people of all ethnicities, heritage, sexual orientation, and status will be accepted, without comment.
I have a dream that Penticton United Church will continue its vital ministry of pastoral care, outreach, and worship well into the next decade and beyond.
I have a dream that the biggest worry of the next decade will be “how do we love extravagantly within our dedicated congregation?”, not worries of money and leadership!
I have a dream that persons under the age of 45 will be attracted to our church because of our array of programs and activities as well as our innovative worship.
And my dreams go on and on. You see it is not just Martin Luther King Jr. who dared to dream and motivate. I have big dreams for this church. And they are not pie in the sky dreams. They are realistic and doable. But, for any dream to become reality takes team work and commitment.
More than 90 years ago a group of faithful new United Church people had a dream of a new church building on this site. Replacing the old St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, our beautiful building with sanctuary was constructed and dedicated in 1928. This happened because the people of the United Church dared to dream of how they might meet the needs of the people of Penticton. With up to 400 people attending worship on a Sunday morning it is easy to see why a sanctuary of this size was needed.
Throughout our 90 years of ministry we have responded to the diverse needs of our people and the broader community. We have offered programs and activities for all age groups. We have challenged the faithful to grow through study groups. We have had fun with various fund raisers and social events. And there is nothing stopping us from continuing in this pattern.
I am convinced that the future for Penticton United Church is bright, in-spite of the signs that say otherwise. I say this because we have been in this situation before. Every decade we have faced deficits and leadership stresses. But, that has not stopped us from doing and being faithful. Today’s sermon is not the time to map out a course of action for the future. That is the role of the Long Range Planning Committee and the Council. My role is to assure you that it can be done. All we need is to listen very attentively to what our scripture text has to say.
John writes to the 7 churches of Asia, which today is modern Turkey. Even though this text was written 2000 years ago, there is a relevancy to it. It is a message we long to hear today. We are greeted with grace and peace from God and Jesus Christ. As the passage unfolds, we are assured that God is at work, seeking an end to injustice and suffering. How comforting it is to hear that God is still active, offering compassion, challenge, and love to all. This great gift is manifest in Jesus Christ who brings love, liberation and community in a very concrete way. Looks around and you’ll see what I mean.
Such is the call to the church today. We are to follow Christ’s example as faithful witnesses. We are to serve others, and we are to bring others into the way of love and praise which will last forever.
Christ is not a tyrant. He is a lover. Christ is not a power mad oppressor. He is a servant witness. And Christ calls us to be the same sort of loving and serving witness to others. When we grasp that calling, our lives become sources and avenues for praise for “the Alpha and the Omega … who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
That is our call, my friends. Will we accept that challenge? Will we dare to dream that Penticton United Church will accept Christ’s call to be loving witnesses? Will we dream of God’s grace and peace touching us in such a profound way that our witness in the community is life changing? May it be so. Amen.