From Pastor’s Desk

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Our lives as Christians materialize in large parts through service to others. If you follow the Apostle Paul, this is a principle deeply ingrained in every congregation. In I Corinthians 12, he lists several spiritual gifts among the faithful. Their common denominator is the fact that they come into existence first when they are applied for the sake of someone else. We cannot express wisdom, knowledge, faith and healing to ourselves; and neither would it make sense if we worked miracles, prophesied, used discernment or the gift of tongues only for ourselves. The Christian life always carries a dimension of serving others. It’s our outbound perspective, so to speak.

Based on this is the strong interest in issues of social justice that is prevalent among many mainline congregations. In the Reformed circles in our area, we care in particular about immigration issues, ongoing relief from Superstorm Sandy, human trafficking, and shelter for victims of domestic violence. Other issues could easily be added, and they are all important and have their own right.

But did you know that meaning of the church does not exhaust itself in any of these? There is more to the Christian life that the concern for social justice. Neither are social justice issues the only ones that feature service to others. Indeed, almost every aspect of our lives as Christians entails the dimension of service:

  • If we care for the historic substance of our buildings and tradition, we do so for the sake of future generations.
  •  If we get involved with adult education, we prepare ourselves to better understand our role with others and our relation with them.
  •  If we sing in the choir or play an instrument during worship, we do so for the edification of others

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I could prolong the list ad infinitum. But let’s be more concrete. The picture above was taken during the meeting of the Property Committee on January 11. I stood on a chair to gain a more fun perspective. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of donuts. And someone funny had brought a book about guns to hold up in this way the current initiative of President Obama.

It was a fun meeting, yet it also accomplished a lot. The number of resolved agenda items was quite impressive. And I think I can say this for all participants: Meetings like this one give us a sense of meaning as we apply ourselves to ministry. Fun and service can go hand-in-hand! In daily life, Church is at its best when this happens; only in serious situations of suffering or crisis it is the other way round. That’s when we carry the cross. But, as I said, in normal life, our togetherness should look just like this meeting of our Property Committee. May we have many more similar occasions for ministry as this year goes into its second month!

With fond wishes,
Pastor Hartmut

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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