This is a day of new beginnings, time to remember and move on, time to believe what love is bringing, laying to rest the pain that’s gone. … Christ is alive, and goes before us to show and share what love can do. This is a day of new beginnings; our God is making all things new. (UMH #383, vs. 1,4)
How do you feel about new things? I’ll be anxious to hear your answers to that question as we get to know one another. For my own part, I have two answers to this question. The first answer is from four months ago, and it went something like this:
When I see a truly new thing on the horizon I become alert. I watch it closely, anticipating
what it might mean to me. I become excited, maybe a little anxious at aspects
that I can’t yet know, but excited at the prospect of getting to know them. New
things are EXCITING, because newness always asks me to grow, to learn, to
develop new understandings, and new things always reveal some undiscovered
side to God or God’s creation, something that only by the NEWNESS of it, do I at
Now, after 3 ½ months of pandemic, my answer seems quite different:
What fresh nightmare is THIS? New diseases, new practices, new rules, rules,
rules. All sorts of things I’ve done my whole life are now either forbidden or
strongly discouraged. Racial tensions, as old as our country and more, murder
hornets, and to put a cherry on top of an already hot mess, it’s an ELECTION
year. God SAVE me. MUST we drink change through a FIREHOSE?
I’d like an AMEN for BOTH of those answers, please. Because, while the cards seem to be coming faster than we can pick them up, I’m convinced that God isn’t asking us to pick up ALL of them, just the important, life-changing ones.
We are living in a liminal time, a time between where we’ve been with all it’s comforting familiarity, and where we want to go with all its exciting prospects for growth and learning. Right now the discomfort seems to be unending, but real growth, real change, is not possible without that discomfort. It is during discomfort that God’s work in our lives comes into sharpest focus.
Change is NEVER comfortable, and now, on top of everything else, there’s a new pastor in town. So, one more thing, one more NEW thing to occupy our minds. One more change demanding just a little more of our energy. There will be some changes because I’m very different from your last pastor, and not all those changes are going to be comfortable. Your last pastor possessed her own gifts and talents and was also sent to Fairfield by God so that while she was here all of you could learn something new about God and God’s creation. It’s OK to mourn a bit, to miss your pastor and her gifts, because change is hard sometimes, and usually uncomfortable.
We never seem to be able to choose the time or nature of change. Most of us would usually elect to preserve what we already know. Perhaps that’s why God generally SPRINGS change upon us, so that we will focus our attention on what IS ours to choose, how we will respond to new things. Christ is alive, and goes before us, so, we can always choose excitement, curiosity, a chance to learn a new way. I’ll be around, finding a place for a cup of coffee, somewhere to eat lunch, shady places outdoors for contemplation and conversation, curvy roads to ride my motorcycle. And I’ll be listening for new stories, from new friends, new answers about how you feel about new things.
See you on the road,