It's snowing as I write this blog. Not just a flurry, not just a flake or two, here and there. A full-on, three inches and counting, sticking-to-the-road snow.
It's blowing. The pine trees at the back of the yard are waving at me. The hummingbird feeder on the shepherd's crook (And why is it still out there?) is moving clumsily, back and forth.
If you know me, you know that nature is where I generally find God most easily. So it feels a bit hypocritical to admit that this is one aspect of nature that I do not enjoy. Weather like this makes me want to hunker down in my favorite wingback chair, bundle up in socks and blankies, and-above all else-not go outside. (Which means that the hummingbird feeder, alas, will probably still be there when spring comes.)
I know you may be of the same opinion as my husband, who reminds me every year (Every. Year.) that this is, after all, November in Northwest Indiana and I might as well get used to it. But generally, early November is a time of transition! We ease out of those warm, sunshiny Indian summer days into cooler temperatures and less sunlight. Today, it seems we've been robbed of that time to adjust. Boom. It's cold. Wet. Uninviting.
A change for which I am not quite prepared.
Which is what I really want to write about here. Change. Not in the weather. Not in the seasons. But in the spiritual life of our church. Last Sunday evening, many of us participated in the Service of Installation for Pastor Kimber-lee. What a glorious event it was!
From the organ booming out Bach's "Prelude in E-flat," at the opening of the service, to the singing of the hymn, "My Heart Cries Out with a Joyful Shout" at its end...
From the many-colored Origami birds that formed a beautiful prayer mobile suspended above the chancel, to the painting interpreting the event, created on the spot by artist and Pastor Shawna Bowman...
From the laying on of hands, to the lighting of the candles, to the pouring of baptismal waters...
From the comments of love, respect, humor and affirmation offered by so many people from Pastor Kim's life, to the call to action in Reverend Nannette Banks's brilliant and timely sermon on Esther, to the beautiful words that describe what we believe...
This service was intentionally designed not only to establish the formal relationship between our pastor and our church, but also to celebrate the good gifts of God. The grace of baptism. The light that no darkness can extinguish. Music, and art. Relationships of the heart, and of the spirit.
As you may know, an Installation includes Constitutional Questions not only to the pastor, but to us, the congregation. We agree to, among other things, "pray for her, encourage her, respect her decisions, and follow as she guides us." We promise "to listen to the word she preaches, welcome her pastoral care, and honor her authority as she seeks to honor and obey Jesus Christ our Lord."
For several months, we were in transition as we searched for our new pastor. We talked about it, wrote about it, prayed about it. And to God's glory, she is now here!
But we are still in transition, and so is she.
There's a lot we don't know.
We don't know what's going to happen in this troubled world, and how it will affect us and our families. We don't know, as followers of Jesus, what specific actions we should take when we are faced with injustice. We don't know what vision God will give Pastor Kim as she leads our congregation into the next steps in our journey.
But two things we do know.
One, change is coming.
(Change is always coming.)
Just as light becomes dark, warmth becomes cold, growth becomes dormancy. Just as fall becomes winter.
And two, our great blessing will be to walk through these changes alongside Reverend Kimber-lee Adams.
The relationship between a pastor and a congregation is unique among all other human relationships. The congregation entrusts nothing less than its spiritual life -- individually and communally -- into the hands of the pastor. We don't know her yet. But we act on faith, believing that God has led her to us.
The pastor agrees to guide us, to care for us, to teach us. She doesn't know us yet. But she acts on faith, believing that God has led us to her.
It is at once a professional, personal, and spiritual relationship. As we pass through this period of transition, let us remember that God is the third party in this covenant relationship. Let us care for Pastor Kimber-lee and her family, as she will care for us and ours. Let us trust in her leadership, as she trusts in our faith. Let us all be open to changing our perspectives, to growing our spirits, and to serving God alongside one another.
Let us remember, always, the one thing that never changes....
Lou Ann Karabel
P.S. If you were unable to attend the service, I hope you'll watch it on the church website: www.fpcvalpo.org (under the worship/sermon videos' tab).