First Words

This week I am celebrating my fourth anniversary as the senior pastor of Northside Church. I give thanks to God for the opportunity to serve the congregation and community. Today I am sharing the blog that I wrote the week prior to my very first Sunday at NSC.

First words are important.

After all, well begun is half done. A carefully-crafted opening provides a proper introduction to an author’s thoughts. Therefore, I spend an inordinate amount of time on the first word, sentence, paragraph, and page.

Some days the words flow like a river’s rapids. Other days the syllables ooze like molasses in January. I find myself staring at the blinking cursor on the computer screen, wondering why the inventor didn’t call it a CURSER!

First words are difficult because an author must CHOOSE. Out of an infinite number of beginnings, there can only be ONE first word, sentence, and paragraph.

This Sunday I will preach my first sermon as the new senior pastor at Northside United Methodist Church in Atlanta. Like Jacob at the Jabbok ford, God and I have wrestled over what to say . . . and what not to say . . . and how to say it. After all, first words are important because they form first impressions.

Over the past weeks, those adolescent first-day-at-school-anxieties have welled up inside. Will they like me? Will the other children play with me? Can I get my locker open? Where’s the bathrooms? What if I get lost?

Time and again the Holy Spirit whispers in my soul, “Peace, be still.” Then I remember that the LORD is the First and Last, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. All of life occurs within the context of God’s providential grace.

God always has the first word . . . and God always has the last word. So Psalm 19:14 has become my prayer for the first word of the first sermon on a first Sunday:

May the words of my mouth

and the meditations of my heart

Be acceptable in thy sight,

O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

First words are important.

3 thoughts on “First Words

  1. This is excellent to remember about anyone in a new situation, Bill. In particular as a former teacher, your first impressions set the climate for your class.
    Prayers that all is going well for you and your church as we are all moving back into more normal situations after a crazy year.


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