The leaves are budding out
Yellow stuff has descended
The sneezes come fast.
That is my attempt at Haiku for spring! I am grateful for warm weather, for sunshine, for putting new plants in the soil. And, despite the pollen, I am so grateful for God making all things new!
As I Zoom away in my college-aged daughter’s bedroom, I have spend time also watching the deciduous trees bud out and gain green leaves. The live oaks have shed the old leaves and gained their “flowers” while new leaves begin to form. The azaleas have found their stride and bloomed with gusto this weekend past. What was dormant has come to life!
It’s no different in our churches! The vaccination process has given voice to those who have remained hidden throughout the past year. All the people who felt they needed to stay home to stay healthy are now beginning to ask: could we gather? Could we engage in program, study and worship? So many of us who have stayed home are feeling cautiously optimistic about gathering in small groups or outdoors or engaging in mission activities once again. And many if not all of these questions are directed to you, the pastors and the leaders, and the COVID task forces of your churches.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are reminded “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” See, friends, we are doing a new thing. Church, as it was before, has passed away in some sense. We are in a time of re-launching, deciding what actions carry our mission forward in a fruitful way. We have the opportunity to take a look at what is blooming and budding out around us. We can look closely at the soil to what seeds germinated over this season of pandemic fallowness – what was in the ground that is just now beginning to grow and unfurl tender shoots and leaves? Maybe you will need a new task force to decide what ministries are relevant now!
While it may seem difficult or overwhelming to welcome in so much newness, you are not in it alone! “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it spring forth, do you not perceive it? I will may a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Yes, Lord, yes! The Holy Spirit is guiding us through this time just as we were led in the past year. Engage your folks in what they are seeing and hearing, as they release the old way (not remembering the former things). Embrace the guidance of God, which may come through fellow pastors, lay leaders, and parishioners as God guides us through the wilderness. I’m grateful to all of you who have reached out, who are wrestling with the hard questions of not only leaving the old behind but taking on the hard work of something new. How can the district offer resources, what resources are needed to help you all embrace the wilderness, to find the rivers in the desert?
My great hope is that we will find “refreshment” from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in this spring season. May we find joy in the renewal, the new ministries, the renewed spirit of connection as we gather together safely. Acts 3 reminds us that “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” when we turn fully to God. As we recognize the pandemics in which we have found ourselves, may we come to see a new path, a way in which to walk in newness of life. We seek God’s healing mercies as we recover and find a sustainable path from sickness to healing and from hate to loving wholeness.
For our clergy, I hope you will join me on April 21 or 22 for a sub district meeting by Zoom over the lunch hour (12-1). We will spend one hour in a brief devotion and prayer. Our program will center around a forthcoming opportunity to engage in intercultural assessment and awareness. It will also be a time to check in with me and with one another. The Zoom will open early and stay open a while for any who are hoping to connect, ask questions, or simply check in with colleagues.
Until this time, may the peace of Christ be with you and may God’s creation remind you that new things are happening in the hearts of Harbor!
If you would like to view past editions of Time with Tara, follow this link: