This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, January 28, 2022
This week I’ve been writing quite a few letters. They’ve been brief but heartfelt, and all addressed to beloveds in this church family. I’d have to go back and count properly to be accurate, but my heart’s fullness tells the story of abundant love. Many of you have written in response to last Sunday’s announcement about my change in ministry. My replies are still unfolding, attending to them as I can, individually and in small batches. There’s a sense of needing to pace myself. There’s also an awareness of the emotional energy it takes, to begin this extended process of farewell.
Along the way I’ve been mindful of some other, long overdue letters, yet to begin. They are Christmas letters, in origin, although they’ll be far more like Valentines at this stage. They’ve been intentionally delayed for some extended family and friends, until we were able to share publicly the news of this new turn. Keeping quiet about all of this is an awkward yet necessary piece of pastoral life. Things cannot be told until they’re officially ready and able to be told, and then it feels like a mad dash to get the word out, lest anyone hear through the backdoor. That’s true of our family. It’s very, very true of this congregational family and the relationships we’re blessed to hold here.
In this stretch of word-finding and news sharing, I’ve been inspired and held by the Scriptural letter writers, for their many examples of plain truth. I’ve been inspired, too by the work of authors like Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: the aunt and niece team who introduced us to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, published in 2008. If you don’t know it yet, you may soon, as I’ll refer to it this Sunday morning. I promise not to spoil anything, but I sure hope to draw forth even a portion of its gift, its captivating narrative. It is, as you may have guessed, a book of letters. They speak of a complex community, grown stronger in the depths of challenge, bound by all that they held in common, in full awareness and bold acceptance of their differences.
As we continue through this season of Epiphany – this season of light in the middle of winter – may we continue to read and be open to the incredible gifts of diverse community. In all that changes, as it always does, may we know wisely that which should stay the same. There is a beautiful paradox in this life, given to us so generously by God. We can know constants without stagnation. We can embrace new ways even as we learn from the old. We can draw the circle wide as can be, for a community of Christ-inspired welcome… and still we can make room for more, with an expanse that knows no end.
It’s Love that allows all that to happen: Love of Creator for the created, forever re-creating us in our perfectly imperfect ways. What an exceptional story to write home about, all over again.
With love to you all,
“Jesus walks in the midst of all people: widows, lepers, folks who root for the opposing team, and even the unlikeliest: Christians like us.” (Katie Hines-Shah, ‘The Christian Century’)