Another beginning: it’s 2017! I usually catch myself writing the old date a few times before I get used to the reality of the current “now”. The current “now” or what’s often called “the new normal” takes some getting used to and that’s okay.
We carry the past with us. The challenge, and the joy, is that experience can buoy us up and give us strength, courage, and enthusiasm for today and for tomorrow.
2017 will be a big year for PACC. You’ll call a new settled pastor. That person will bring enthusiasm and ideas and a way of walking in faith. You’ll get to know each other over time and together you’ll figure out how to be the Church here at PACC and in the wider community.
The figuring out takes some time and patience. It’s an investment in yourselves as the Church, so dig deep and chip in all you can. The rewards can be immense: a congregation committed to living into and out of the Good News that the Divine embrace is wide enough for all.
I used to teach technical writing and I have some “pet peeves” about word use. One of them is confusing the words eager and anxious. Both are about anticipation, but eager is when one is looking forward to something while anxious is not being very keen on what’s about to happen.
The Massachusetts Conference publishes The Parish Paper every month. In the November issue, editor Cynthia Woolever wrote about congregational anxiety. Here’s a little of her article:
An anxious church tends to
Over think any decision before taking action
Imagine and expect negative outcomes
Worry about the very worst that could happen
Respond poorly to any negative feedback from nonmembers
Be extremely self-critical
Woolever went on, “Rediscovering our goals and committing to them increases our resilience to anxiety.
Try starting with a “yes” on a mission goal, setting behavior deadlines for decisions, and making sure to consider as many positive implications and negative ones”
There’s both eagerness and anxiety in our midst. You get to choose which you want to guide you as you move into this new year. There is so much opportunity and so much potential to make real differences in the congregation and beyond when you start with “yes.”
You’ve begun already by investing time and energy in responding to the pastoral search committee’s survey and conversation s about who we are, who our neighbors are, and who God is calling us to be. That’s a great start. Thank you for investing yourselves in this process of discernment.
When your next pastor arrives, make your welcome eager and not anxious. Use that momentum already in your midst to say yes often. It’s the most faithful response to the many ways God calls us, individually and together, to stand for justice and to embody peace.
Happy New Year,