Reflections from Rev. Ann
Perhaps you missed Rev. Ann's article in the Happenings? We are sharing it in it's entirety for you convivence below. Many have shared they found it honest and comforting.
Embracing optimism. This has been my mantra for some time now. I’ve even been asked, are you really that optimistic? Aren’t things still unsettled at St. Mary’s? “Unsettled” is putting it mildly. We have many challenges among us, from financial to lack of engagement, from gossip to conflicts. We have disappointments and strained relationships. We have many struggles that we have avoided naming and would prefer to avoid confronting.
And we have tremendous growth! We are meeting challenges, and relationships are deepening. We are successfully learning our way with new technology. We are adapting to the COVID restrictions. We are trying on the changes in worship that will become part of St. Mary’s future. We are celebrating the gifts and talents among us, such as our licensed worship leaders’, and commissioning our lay preachers. We are stretching our muscles of flexibility. We are discovering God in our midst in ways we did not imagine.
While we too often wish the future was like a “brighter yesterday,” God invites us to experience a future that shines with transformation. We often wish others would change, and then we would feel better. Or things could go back to an earlier time, and that would fix everything. That’s not the mature, long-lasting change and new life that God desires. God desires the change of heart that allows us to get out of our own way, live boldly, accept God’s grace and see beyond ourselves.
I am often asked, what is the future of the church? Is it children, evangelism programs, small-group ministry, traditional music and choirs? We have many ideas. And we wonder why it seems like nothing works. This may pull us back to those desired brighter yesterdays.
As I continue to practice embracing optimism and listen for God’s Word in our midst, I offer you these words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian: “The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.”
May these words speak to your heart as you strive to embrace optimism. May we build a new community of love at St. Mary’s, one that openly welcomes our uncertain future in the name of all that is holy and life-giving.