Since I announced my retirement last spring this year has been a year of “lasts” both for me and Faith UCC and to compound the inevitable feeling of nostalgia that comes with this we have all had to deal with the Covid 19 pandemic and all the dislocation that comes with that. After 15 years at Faith UCC and 39 years as a UCC minister I’ve conducted my last Palm/Passion Sunday and Easter service; led my last confirmation class; and I’m entering my last Advent/Christmas season as an unretired pastor.
The good news is that with all these “lasts” come the possibilities of new beginnings and a new chapter opens in my life and in the life of Faith UCC. It is not always easy to move into new possibilities. There is always the temptation to look backward to what was instead of forward to what could be. It is scary to leave the familiar behind and enter an unrealized future. It often takes patience, perseverance, deep thinking and reflection to imagine a new future. It often means trying something new and being open to new possibilities. It often means building new relationships and strengthening old ones. Community has been important in the past and it will continue to be important as a new future unfolds, maybe even more important. It often means extra effort and work beyond what we have been doing. It often means relying on God’s grace, power, and presence to a degree we may not have for a very long time.
I’m struck this Advent/ Christmas season that Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ-child, Emmanuel, God with us, who comes as a baby. Not only did the Christ child have to gestate 9 months in Mary’s womb before entering the world but the world had to wait 30 years before that baby grew into an adult and began his ministry. Even then, after the resurrection and ascension, we Christians await the second coming. We Christians are always awaiting the coming future God has in store, even while we celebrate God’s presence with us now. This requires much patience, perseverance and prayer.
I ran across this quote on patience that I will close with. “Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.” ― Roy T. Bennett
I pray that God will grant us all the gift of active patience and the peace that passes understanding that comes with trusting in God, no matter what the future may hold.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Pastor Scott