“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a
This Bible verse was chosen by one of our confirmands as his Confirmation scripture. He learned it by heart and recited it for us in last Sunday’s worship service. When he talked about the choice, he noted that this invitation is not to a passive stillness, but an active trust, that in all the chaos and change that might swirl around us throughout our lives, there is a center that will hold. That center is God, who brings us through, and brings us out.
So the invitation of Psalm 46 is to settle into God’s care. It’s an invitation that begins this way: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” Psalm 46:1-3
Our Biblical stories are filled with stories of God’s care in difficult times, and of God’s promise of emergence from chaos. God calls the nation of Israel out of Egypt. God brings the exiles home from Babylon. Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb. Our God is a God of renewal, regeneration, and revelation. Our God is always up to new things.
Of course, emerging implies change; doing “new” things also means doing things differently. We have been using the term “emergence” to describe the life of our congregation and the shape of our ministry as we come out of this time of intense isolation and distancing. For the sake of the common good, fourteen months ago we moved the life of our congregation to a “virtual” experience, with extremely limited in-person connections. It was the right thing to do, even though it has not been easy. And in that time we have experienced a great deal of change. On our staff, we have said good bye and hello to many, and we have done it all virtually. We also know as we emerge there will be continued changes. Just this last week we received a letter announcing Pastor Catherine’s retirement at the end of November. Change can be hard.
Change can also be transformational.??This week as we reflect on the past year since the murder of George Floyd, and remember the 100th?Anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre. We call for an emergence from the racism and supremacy that has been in our nation since its beginning.??We work to change the ways supremacy culture has privileged a certain way of doing things that has not served the common good.??We are living into our calling as an anti-racist community.
We still do not know when we will all be able to be together as a congregation, but we do know that we are beginning to gather in small groups. Pastors and staff are beginning to return to our building a few days a week. We are currently considering what the fall might look like as we continue to emerge.
In the meantime, our message to you as your pastors remains the same. We know our leaders are doing their best to carry forward our values of faith, love and justice as we consider how this “emergence’ might look. We know we can be there for one another, even in the midst of the most difficult of changes.
As we go through these changes, as we emerge, please reach out to one another and to us. Let us know how we can pray for you, and how we can care for each other. Our contact information is below. And we know our God, who comforts the afflicted and invites the comfortable to get moving, is faithful even in the midst of change.