December 29, 2022
During the week between Christmas and New Years’ Day, there is a song that I love to listen to. Sandra McCracken has a beautiful duet with Josh Garrels called “The Space Between.” The words explore that liminal week between holidays as a time of introspection and gratitude:
Unplug the lights
Take down the tree
The less we have
The less we need
From Christmas night To New Year’s Eve
We bless the space that’s in between
I also use this time to look back over the previous year. Here are a few highlights in the life of our church over the past year:
- We lost a number of our stalwart saints in 2022. Every one of them was a beloved beacon of goodness and wisdom for us. We are better for having known them. Every loss of someone we love is a reminder that we live in our “space between” in which we are awaiting the Resurrection and the reunion we will experience with those we love.
- Our wonderful Minister with Children and Families, Lee Ritchie, embarked on a sabbatical. She spent intentional time looking at the spiritual formation of children and how best to equip families to craft home cultures of discipleship. You can read Lee’s reflections on her sabbatical here and here.
- During a Staff retreat to St. Francis Springs Retreat Center, our ministers reimagined what spiritual formation could look like at Ardmore Baptist. Out of that dreaming (and coupled with the results of a congregational survey) came our All Together Ardmore emphasis and our desire to see Community Groups form in peoples’ homes.
- Our Vision and Navigation Team entered into a process with CBF called the Thriving Congregations cohort. Together with four other North Carolina CBF churches, we are focused on the five traits of a thriving church: Compelling Clarity, Faithful Agility, Holy Tenacity, Rooted Relationships, and Dynamic Collaboration.
- I was blessed to preach the following sermon series’ in 2022:
- Follow (Lent)
- Revealed: The Book of Revelation (Eastertide)
- Colorful Stories (Summer)
- Prepare Ye the Way (Advent)
- We gained thirty new church members and baptized a number of people (including many youth!) this year and we welcome them into the life of our congregation!
But as I look back, I am also looking forward to what the Lord has in store for our congregation in 2023:
- We will undoubtedly lose more of our beloved church members this year. We will continue to care for those families and remind them of the love of God through embraces, cards, and casseroles.
- Our Minister to Students, Dane Martin, will go on his own, well-earned sabbatical as he finds both rest for his soul and new insights into how to best share the Gospel with our youth.
- Our ministers will again go on retreat this spring to imagine and dream with one another about God’s movement within and through our church.
- The Vision and Navigation Team will continue to work through the Thriving Congregations cohort culminating at the CBF General Assembly in Atlanta this June.
- I am looking forward to some upcoming sermon series’ in 2023:
- The Walk (Epiphany)
- The Struggle is Real (Lent)
- Shema (Easter)
- Promises (Summer)
- I look forward to more new members and more baptisms as God leads people to join us and add to the beautiful tapestry of our family of faith!
I hope that your 2022 has been meaningful, friends, and I pray that your 2023 would bring you into an even deeper awareness of God’s abiding love for you. Happy New Year!