We are a particular church, and God has us share a particular form of understanding and access to him. We are Reformed, steeped in almost 500 years of Calvinist tradition. We have Dutch roots but have become mainstream American for generations. We are also modern, critical, intellectual, interested in the arts, music, interreligious dialogue and social justice. We are loud and joyful, pensive and meditative, compassionate, and some of us are convinced that committees are the answer to everything.
We know that not all we do and stand for is equivalent with God’s will and that we must try again and again. God’s will is much greater than our desires, plans, intentions and aspirations. God’s sovereignty has made us often self-critical. Yet we know one thing for sure: The fact that God gave us a particular shape and tradition does not mean that we should stay among ourselves. Moved by a faith experience that God initiated in us, we have something to say to all of society, whether it calls itself Christian or not, because God is the God of all. We may be a particular church, but we have a message for all. It is the message of God’s love for this world.
So look at the accompanying pictures taken during the Dutch Sinterklaas Festival in a barn on Hageman’s Farm in the afternoon of last year’s Second Sunday of Advent. Everybody was Dutch for a day, enjoyed the youthfulness of the dancing, the joyful melodies and the meeting of people we see only once during the year. Some are Jewish, some Roman Catholic. Some do not believe in organized religion, and others belong to area Reformed churches as we do. This peculiar gathering reminded me that we are sent into the world – even if the world looked mighty Dutch that day.
As we begin our journey into the New Year together, I ask God that he may sustain our cheerfulness, our openness towards the wider world, and our service in society. To God be the glory! Amen.