What a joy it has been to have lived and moved and had my being in God among this body of Christ since January 1. Today I am writing to you for the first time as your Associate Pastor, and I couldn’t be more delighted to offer my inaugural “associations” article. I’ve chosen this title for three reasons: because I am your Associate, because I want to use this forum to make connections, and because Santa Fe is a group of people organized for the joint purpose of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s make some associations.
Let me begin by expressing my genuine awe of the Youth and Children of this congregation. The young people I have had the pleasure of making my friends these last several months are extraordinary people. They are informed and passionate Christians with firm foundations of faith that translate into remarkable fruit. Even the youngest among us participates in worship by collecting offerings and coming forward in wisdom and truth for the Children’s Sermon. Our young people are independently responsible for the passing plates in worship. Our entire community is enriched in worship by instrumental ensembles and soloists on a regular basis in worship – something very few congregations can say. Our students travel together to each others’ performances and events that take place on “home turf” of rival schools because they care about each other more than they care about the awkwardness of being on a strange campus. The Youth work behind the scenes helping “re-set the sanctuary,” packing and unpacking the attic, supporting missions, preparing worship bags, “hiding” eggs, dressing in hot costumes…and the list goes on. These people are vital believers in Christ’s kingdom and we all prosper because of their presence.
Our young people are also busy people. Their schedules are demanding and their lives are full. It is as important for the church to come to them as it is for them to come to the church. In recognition of the complexity of their lives and in appreciation for their presence among us, I have started bringing pizza to each of our high school students in what I’m calling the “Thank God For Pizza” contact ministry. It’s a simple but a profound ministry. It lives up to this church’s motto: Come see, be fed, go tell. Each student is given more pizza than he or she could possibly consume without help – you might call it an abundance of pizza.! I think if Christ were serving pizza it would be in staggering abundance, so that’s how I try to do it. I encourage them to eat their fill, to share with their friends, and to find a stranger to bless, because Christ would bless the strangers, too. Each box is marked with a huge sticker so that all who see it know that this church sees them, feeds them, and tells them that they are loved. Teenagers need nothing more than that. Thank you for calling me to be among you, and for making Christ’s abundance (of pizza) manifest in this world. – Laurel