Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (Good News Bible)
Three words are usually associated with the period between when one pastor leaves and another arrives – change, transition and transformation, three words which often provoke anxious uncomfortable feelings among many of us. What lies before us is unknown and more often than not, will involve doing things differently. Yes, embracing this time requires each one of us to trust that the writers of Ecclesiastes knew what they were saying when they said, Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses, at the time God needs to have it done.
We live in a rapidly changing world and the only thing that has not changed is God’s presence and the need for that presence in our lives. However, quite often a church does not believe it needs, or at least that it wants, to change. Unfortunately congregations, like all organizations need to change the ways they do things if they want to reach and hold on to new people, this is how they grow. Different people have different experiences, different gifts and often have different ideas, and God has placed them in our midst for a reason. We constantly need to be looking and moving toward a future that God is calling us to. Perhaps that is one reason why the Bible is full of prophets like Isaiah who arrive proclaiming words like, See I am doing a new thing!...I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Is 43:19). For it is new things like that, which break through barriers that hold us to the past.
One of my roles as your interim pastor is working through this period with you and helping you, as individuals and as a congregation discover and recognize those things which might lead you to new places in the desert. It becomes a time to revisit your mission and perhaps reset your vision; to ask questions like, Who are we? What is God calling us to do? or questions like, Who has God placed on our doorstep? Who are we called to minister to?
Yes, this may be the time God has decided a transformation needs to take place here at Spencerport. Perhaps this is why we all have been placed here together at this time. As you take to time to access your strengths and your weaknesses, to refocus your sense of your identity and mission, new understandings of your past and directions for your future will emerge. One of the keys to this is being patient, of not feeling the urgency to move any more quickly than God wants us to move. This is where an understanding of the wisdom articulated by the writers of Ecclesiastes when they said, There is a time to embrace and a time to change (3:5). This I suspect, may be one of those times.