On the last Sunday in September Dr. Charles Raynal III presented to the church on behalf of the Raynal family a portrait of his grandfather, Dr. Charles Raynal, pastor of First Presbyterian Church from 1909 to 1944. We were given a connection or a reconnection with our history. I have often been struck by the changes Dr. Raynal would have seen over those years. His pastorate saw, among other things, the building of the sanctuary where we have been worshiping since 1925. We are grateful for the legacy he left behind and for the chance to reconnect with it.
I would like to encourage you to take stock of the ways you are connected with First Presbyterian Church and the ways we are connected with one another through our congregation. We worship together, praising God and praying, hearing God’s word. We support one another in time of need, welcoming new babies into the world and into our fold, surrounding families with our love when death has struck, and they are in grief. We go out into the world in mission, responding to needs through partner mission agencies we helped start, on mission trips to places farther off, from, in recent years, Asheville to New Jersey to Puerto Rico. We experience a connection with one another and also with God, who connects us and stays busy, weaving a web of connection among us, the human children of God.
“Only connect” has had a lot of currency since it appeared in E. M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End, but the Bible anticipated the words, and everything we believe bears it out. As the Bible tells us, when God created the heavens and the earth, God chose not to be alone but instead to create human beings, male and female, in the image of God, who would be connected with one another and with God. God chose to reconnect, to make the connection firmer, by taking on human flesh, becoming one of us in Jesus Christ. The living Word of God came to live among us, changing human life and potential forever.
Decisions we make and rituals we perform help us make firm our promises and commitments. When we promise to serve and give through the church of Jesus Christ, we are saying we will give high priority to doing our part to maintain and strengthen the connection God has chosen to make with us. As a church, we are considering how God wants to be connected to the world through us. As Christians, we accept our responsibility, and we want to be more strongly connected with God, with our community, with each other, and with our church.