One of the things that make transitions challenging is the notion of uncertainty amid so many possibilities.
The vast and wide road ahead, alongside the dynamics of not knowing what exactly is ahead can make for disruptive and anxious times.
And just like the communities of faith and faithful people before us, what we do know is that we’re in it together, that God is, somewhere, alongside of us, nudging us and encouraging us along.
During times of transition one note of clarity that helps to manage this uncertainty is the assurance of who we are, what we call identity, as God’s people. While many of us want to quickly organize for purpose, longing for a clear and concise mission statement, it is, in actuality, our identity, our very ways of being as God’s people that gives us fertile ground for growing in a particular direction. So, from the urgency to create strategies and plans for “doing” more, it is, in fact, counterintuitive to first pause and explore, with the best of curiosity, who we are.
For moderns whose efficacy is self-sufficient determinacy this counterintuitive ‘pause’ may seem lazy and fruitless.
And yet, this is precisely why sabbath has been such a staple for God’s people. It is not merely resting from our labors, it is resting in patient waiting for God’s Word about us.
Martin Luther writes about this in his explanation to the third commandment on the Sabbath: “we are to fear and love God so that we do not despise God’s Word, or neglect it, but gladly hear and learn it.”
Times of transition, as in every epoch of faith communities long before us, are determined by this willingness to lean into the common identity of God’s presence in Word, whether the people of Israel in Exodus or Exile, the disciples learning and listening to the living, breathing Word/Christ, or the early church being amazed at God’s deeds of power through the Holy Spirit.
In this time of transition, I guess my question for us is how will we, collectively and individually, pause to listen to one another, and to God’s Word among us, and to resist the anxiety that doing all the things equates with being faithful?
The Good News is that there are more than enough opportunities for us as God’s faithful people to slow down and listen, to receive God’s Word gladly and to hear and learn it.
This is to keep the main thing the main thing. For as in any community, seeking to be the best that it can be, its truest source of power is its identity, who it is. We who are called by Christ and the Spirit to be church in this place and time are continually being called to listen. Let us be drawn to be in tune with listening ears to the resonance of God’s Spirit already in our midst.
Pastor David Hahn, Transition Facilitator