From the Pastor …
Here you will find notes from Rev. Laura Bachmann from the weekly email blasts and from our monthly Harbinger newsletter.
Peace At All Times
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you. Thessalonians 3:16
Yesterday, we celebrated world communion Sunday, joining with faithful believers from across the globe to engage in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, binding ourselves to God and seeking inspiration and renewal for our common life together. As part of this celebration of shared sacred space and ritual, we also collected the Peace and Global Witness special offering which promotes Christ’s peace by addressing systems of conflict and injustice around the world, advocating for peace and justice in cultures of violence, including our own, through collaborative projects of education and Christian witness.
This peace that Paul writes about is an active peace pursued by each of us as members of Christ’s body in the world. It requires a commitment from every believer to be about the business of noticing where God’s world has been broken by violence and greed, selfishness and a will to power that leaves too many on the sidelines without hope of a better life. The peace that God seeks to give us is a peace that extends far beyond an absence of conflict into the positive experience of support for all human flourishing. This week, let us look around us for those places where we can participate in making God’s peace a reality for our communities. Where can we work through conflict or lift up those who are oppressed? Where can we advocate for our neighbors or be present with someone who suffers?
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b
A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated our kick-off Sunday, gathering on-line and in person to mark the beginning of a new program year. In our own unique symphony of voices, we prayed a litany of new beginnings, imagining together what kind of Easter people we need to be as we discern our way through this liminal space and into a future that only God can clearly see. Even as we begin anew, God invites us into a time of uncertainty that contains the seeds to the new life God has already imagined for our community.
For many of us, this can be an uncomfortable place to sit – the lack of clarity about our future unsettles us. We grieve the departure of our youth director. We long for the days when the voices of our children echoed throughout the building. We miss the old patterns of life, the energy and vibrancy of coffee hours and mission groups, work teams and bible studies. We question whether we can still be “us” when so much has changed.
Now, is a good time to remember who and whose we are. GPC is not defined by how many youth darken its doors or how many bodies engage in mission. We do not consist only of how many people attend worship or how much money drops into our collection plate. Who are we? We are God’s children, called to follow Jesus with just the clothes on our back and our wandering feet to sustain our mission. In this new day to which God calls us, we must be resourceful and creative, open to new understandings of what it means to be God’s church. We remain “us” because we love Jesus. No amount of change taking place around us will alter that.
In our litany on kick-off Sunday, we pledged to be faithful believers who go deep into God’s story, fully embracing God’s presence in our lives, inviting God to lead us in the uncertain paths ahead. We promised to be followers who stretch wide, stepping out beyond our comfort zones, laying down the “way we’ve always done things” and living into the fullness of our relationships together as a community of faith. Out of these relationships will grow God’s call to us and our ability to follow that call. Together we will sustain and nurture one another, hold ourselves accountable and offer each other encouragement. The friendships we nurture will invite us into new understandings and spark creative new responses. Together, we will wonder more about why we do what we do than about what we do or how we do it. We will live into answers that are not about the nuts and bolts of action but rather about trusting the wisdom and discernment of our collective body of Christ.
As we listen deeply for God’s word to us in this new day, we must learn to let go of the need to control outcomes, taking up the gifts of the community and allowing them to guide us forward even, and maybe especially, when that results in change and transformation for our long-cherished institutions. Our litany gave voice to our common promise to engage in regular self-reflection, boldly committing to check our egos and our biases and remember that we all belong to God. As we grow in resiliency, standing firmly in God’s promised presence and faithful guidance, we will learn to see with eyes of faith, hope and imagination the future that is yet to unfold before us. Let us step boldly into that promise, trusting wholly in the One who promises that we will have life, and have it abundantly.
© 2021 Rev. Laura Bachmann
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To read older messages from Laura in 2021, please click on a document link below: