Three children were in the school yard bragging about their parents. The first child said, “My Dad scribbles a few words on paper, calls it a poem, and they give him $50.” The second child says, “My Mom scribbles a few words, calls it a song, and they give her $100.”  The third child says, “My Dad scribbles a few words, calls it a sermon, and it takes 6 people to collect all the money!”

Perceptions can be refreshing as well as yield fresh insight. At a recent church meeting, someone asked if our church is changing. Our church receives 28% of its support from members/supporters who live in communities other than Manchester-by-the-Sea. 1/3 of our adult choir commutes to church each Sunday from outside the Manchester-by-the-Sea area. 40% of our Sunday School teachers do not live in Manchester. This trend seems to be continuing and growing slowly.

It begs the question, “Why would anyone bypass moreconvenient church locations and commute to attend church?” or “Why do some of our regular attendees commute 30 miles round trip each week?”

Lent is a time of reflection and taking stock, a time of faithful rededication. It is a time to put down our timeworn facades and realize who we really are and what we truly need. What is God doing at First Parish Church? and, more important, How can I further God’s purpose for my church? are important questions we need to ask.

This Lent do you know someone who could use a time of reflection and rededication of their lives? Do not be limited by where they live! Invite them to worship. Introduce them to others. Encourage them to participate. If you see someone you do not know during or after worship introduce yourself, welcome them, and ask them if you can help them know our community better.

Blessings, Rev. John Hughes