New Beginnings July 11, 2014
New Beginnings. That seems to be a theme running through my life. There was the new experience of my first mission trip, to Norway 200 miles above the Arctic Circle, when I was 17. Then the new chapter of life that was college. Then new beginnings of marriage, graduate school, a new career, my first time living in a big city (Atlanta), the birth of children and all the changes they brought. Each fresh start brought chaos, then settling in, then new friends, experiences, life lessons, strengths and greater self-awareness. I learned to be grateful for new beginnings, and to look forward to them. Sometimes we’re forced into new beginnings, not by choice, but by circumstance. When my marriage ended abruptly and surprisingly right after my son was born, I had to begin a new life that I never anticipated – the life of a single parent to two young children. With each new beginning, I learned that God was not only with me, but providing for me, loving me, and leading me into deeper faith and greater life.
Just when I thought all those new beginnings were over for a while, God had other plans. I was quite comfortable with my life, my family, my career, and my church involvement, thinking I knew what the next decades of life would bring. Then God called me into ordained ministry in a way that I could not ignore, run from, or say no to – though I certainly tried! When I finally stopped running and said yes, I launched into a whole new life that is more fulfilling, more challenging, more fun, more interesting, and more perfectly suited to who I am than I ever dreamed possible. I have served churches in Atlanta, Davidson, Huntersville, Greensboro, and Brevard, before coming to Dilworth. Each new place of ministry has brought unique opportunities to catch a fresh vision of what God is doing in the world. Each congregation held people who became great friends and colleagues in ministry. Each new beginning caused me to rely on God’s power and to trust in God’s way rather than my own. Each community of faith became a congregation I fell in love with. And in each place, we have done amazing things together in ministry; we have welcomed many new people into the church; we have risked moving out from the church into the community – trying new things – meeting new people – in order to share the love and grace of Christ with those who didn’t know him; we have discovered ways to use our God-given gifts that brought us great joy and transformed lives; and we were transformed in the process.
Now I have come to another new beginning – this time with you. My reaction to hearing the news that I would be appointed as the Senior Minister of Dilworth Church was excitement and anticipation. I was excited because I know that your passions and strengths for ministry are a great match with mine; and we share the same hopes and dreams for this church and this community. I reacted to this new beginning with anticipation because I know the kinds of things our amazing God can do! I look forward to our getting to see God moving in powerful, wonderful ways in and through us in the years ahead.
At the same time that I learned of this new beginning, God brought me to another one: after 23 years of being alone, I fell head over heels in love with the most wonderful man – the love of my life. On May 23, Nick Bayne asked me to marry him, and I said yes! We are convinced that God brought us together and called us to a new beginning, and we are looking forward to our wedding on September 13.
Life is full of new beginnings, some chosen, some thrust upon us, and some that come as special gifts from a loving God. I know that my coming to live and serve in your midst is a gift from God. I can’t wait to meet each one of you. I look forward to worshipping with you, sharing the good news with you, learning with you, having fun with you, praying with you, going through the valleys with you, growing with you, enjoying the adventure of risk-taking ministry with you, and leading you as we seek to follow Jesus Christ together. The best news of all is, in each new beginning, God is with us, and God has something great in store for us. It’s time to get started!
Yours in Christ, Pastor Karen