Preparing for Worship – Jeff Hampton.
It’s really quite remarkable: this thing we do together called church, this place we call Wilshire. For almost two years we’ve stuck together through a pandemic that has battered and shattered many organizations and institutions. We’ve maintained our collective mission and calling, and we’re well prepared for new challenges.
Three weeks ago we learned that our longtime senior pastor is retiring from that role with us, and last week, in an orderly fashion we chose a dozen from among us to do the prayerful work of identifying his successor. And now today, we are back again being church together as normal, as we always are. And just what does that “normal” entail? It entails being faithful and holding to the basics during not-so-normal times, whether navigating through a pandemic or a time of pastoral transition.
In our worship time together, we will hear the choir sing an arrangement of one of the great old hymns that focuses our attention on why we come together at all: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” And in the reading of the Psalm, we will express our need for the “refuge” and “rescue” of that same almighty Lord who alone is the source of our hope and salvation.
As we do every year, we will call out and lift up in prayer some among us who have been chosen — because of their history of faithful servant leadership — to serve among us in new ways. But the truth is that we all are called to a life of service, and we’ll hear again the familiar words from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth about the one thing we all must do and the one thing that is most important in all that we do: love — to love God and to love one another.
As we worship together today, let us rededicate ourselves to our places of service at Wilshire but also in the varied communities in which we live and work. And let us be thankful for where we have journeyed together as a church and the challenges we have faced and endured by trusting an almighty Lord and by trusting and loving each other.