I have been struck lately by the words of the prophet Isaiah, and the way he describes change. Isaiah speaks these words of God,
“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
The emphasis in this passage is on watching for the new thing God is doing. It is an attentiveness, a perceiving. God is acting, and we see and respond.
While I have been your pastor and also during the tenure of previous pastors, the church session has struggled with perceiving what God will do next. As a result of our focused time of discernment as a session, we have come to realize several things. The first is not a surprise. God is acting. God has gifted this congregation with amazing gifts of hospitality, welcome, musical talents, and hearts for God’s mission in the world. We have seen God’s faithfulness in the past. We experience God’s faithfulness today. And we look forward to God’s faithfulness in the future.
But, it is becoming clear to those of us who are watching this congregation and its place in God’s plan, that the future will look different than the past. God is gently guiding us to a new thing.
One of the ways God gets my attention is through coincidences, or as a friend calls them “God-incidences.” These last few months have had several examples of God working in this way with me and the session. In one example, our December session meeting needed a substitute clerk. Nancy Becker was asked and agreed to serve. At the session meeting she heard of our vision for the property, and one of the elders expressed the hope that we could contact our neighbor with the vacant lot. Lo and behold, Nancy supplied us with the name of the property owner, and soon we had her contact information. We also learned that the owner is a fellow Presbyterian, worshiping at Maplewood, and has been actively seeking to develop her vacant lot into affordable housing. Through the neighbor, we have been introduced to others with similar goals, and to a contact at the City of Edmonds who is working on a housing strategy to be presented this spring. Coincidence? Nope. God-incidence.
Then only last week I ran into a clergy colleague who, unbeknownst to me, serves on a non-profit housing board in a city not far from here. That non-profit has expertise and possible grant/loan money to share with us, depending on what happens next. Coincidence? Nope. God-incidence.
In the words of Isaiah, Look, God is “about to do a new thing… Do you perceive it?”
Please read the enclosed information from the session. Remember: the session is exploring this option, but it may be that God has something completely different in mind. Pray for us and for the church leadership as we seek to discern what is next.
If you have any questions or any other God-incidences to share with me and the session, please do so. It looks like we are embarking on an adventure, and I’m eager to see where God will lead us.