2020 is turning out to be a year like no other. Some have speculated that in the future, if you’re having a really bad year, all you’ll need to say is “It’s 2020 all over again!” and everyone will know that you’re experiencing the worst of the worst. But poet Leslie Dwight encourages us to think differently of this year. In her now viral Instagram post and poem, she writes,
In the life of our congregation all in-person gatherings are on hold. We meet virtually on Zoom, grieving that not everyone can participate. We have needed to re-think our planned remodel of the church, as the Presbytery has chosen to not have physical office space in 2021. And in the midst of this change-filled year, I have announced another change – that I will end my pastorate with you in January, 2021. (There are family reasons behind the change. I had hoped for many more years with you before we needed to part ways. I trust that you have received my email with the details, so I will not repeat them here.) All these changes in the life of the congregation may lead you to wonder is it worth it? Does God still have a plan for this church community? These are fair questions, and ones the Session will wrestle with as they meet in the next few months.
But I wonder if we also need the wisdom from the poets among us? What if this “IS the year we have been waiting for?” What if this year is “the MOST important year of all?” When God’s people have lived through times of change, they have written about it in the Psalms, preached sermons about it, found inspiration in the words of Jesus, and guidance in their prayers. That’s how Christian discernment happens, and that’s what we will do, too.
This fall I will re-start the preaching series on the Seven Marks of Vitality, the seven areas of our congregational life that every congregation exhibits in large and small ways. These are the things that make us a church. The Session is undertaking two extended sessions of discernment together in September, using material developed for churches in times like these. In October we plan on opening up our discernment process to include other congregational participants. If you are feeling led to assist in this way, please let me or a Session elder know of your interest.
I intend to remain curious about what the future may hold for Edmonds Presbyterian Church. What if this “IS the year we have been waiting for?” What if this is the year that Isaiah speaks of, for us, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19
Please join me in holding the Session and our congregation in your prayers as we discern together God’s invitation for 2020 and beyond.