Good Afternoon Church!
We’ve been having real winter lately– colder temps, gray days and on and off again snow flurries. Are you enjoying it? I’m not able to be outside in it, but it sure looks lovely from the window!
Here’s the news for this week:
Care Packages for Nurses
This Sunday you are invited to stay after church to write notes of encouragement for nurses at the hospital and to put together care packages, to be delivered later in the week.
Lunch at Jake’s
This Wednesday the men’s group will be meeting up for lunch at Jake’s at 11:30am. Please let Bob Pickard know if you’ll be attending. And on Thursday the women will do the same– same bat time, same bat channel!
Last Sunday’s Big Shift Convo
Last Sunday after church we met to watch a short, humorous video about what change can feel like. It was called Who Moved My Cheese?! After the movie, we discussed what it’s like to be each of the characters in the story– those who sense when change is coming and adapt right away (in the story these were two little mice named Sniff and Scurry), those who refuse to change at all (this was the little man named Hem who couldn’t get past being upset that his cheese was gone), and those who take time to come to the realization that change is ok and slowly learn to adapt (this was the little man named Hah who leaves his friend Hem to look for new cheese when they find that their cheese is all eaten up).
We had a good discussion, and people shared about some of the changes they’ve had to make in their own lives. After that we moved into talking about change at our church. The big thing I took away from our conversation was that most of us have already moved past the roadblock of not wanting to change our church situation. Much to my surprise, we did not have a single Hem in the room last Sunday! We might still be fearful of needing to change when the time comes, but everyone was aware of the fact that change is coming, and accepted our reality. I was quite surprised by this. It means that we are further along in this process (psychologically and spiritually, speaking) than I had assumed.
None of us– including me– knows what our next chapter is going to look like, but it felt like we were all on the same page of acknowledgement and acceptance. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but awareness and acceptance are the most important ingredients that we can add to the soup pot of whatever it is that God’s got cookin’ up for us. It means that we will survive.
In the last few years, our church has lost quite a number of people from our congregation. I know that this saddens many of us, but in some ways, this reality works to our advantage. The people who have chosen to stay at our church have intentionally decided to stay on board, even with the trajectory that we’re headed towards. Those of us in the room the other day– we’re committed to this project. And we’re going to do it together. Being united in this effort is going to serve us well.
Near the end of our discussion, Marty Weitz told a story about attending a class in seminary taught by Abraham Heschel, the influential Jewish rabbi. In this class, Heschel was of the opinion that building a temple in Jerusalem was possibly the worst thing that ever happened to Judaism. He pointed out that prior to that, God’s presence traveled with the people in the Arch of the Covenant in a tent. It traveled in the wilderness with them, and went wherever they went. Marty pointed out that if we end up selling our building, we will be going back to the way that the Israelites used to know God. And he suggested that this might end up being the best thing to happen to our church in a very long time.
When we left the room last Sunday some people said they felt hopeful, while others felt worry and concern. All of these feelings are natural and normal. They mean that we’re human! The helpful thing to remember is that we can be both at the same time: It’s possible to be confident that God will take care of us but also hold some worry for how it’s all going to turn out. And it’s also possible to be worried, but still decide to move forward with change. The key thing is to stay open-hearted and not let our fears overrun us.
There are many stories in the Bible of God asking people to change how they live, or to trust God in the midst of great change. The story of Abraham and Sarah is one of these stories. In the midst of moving to a land they’d never seen before, and uncertain of how God would give them descendants (since they were childless):
“the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’”~ Genesis 15:1
Like Araham and Sarah, we don’t know what’s going to happen to us next, but like them we can also choose not to be stifled by fear.
During our very own season of Advent– of waiting for what comes next— let us lean into God along our journey of hope and worry.
May God be our shield and our greatest reward!