The Hebrew Scripture writer known as Ecclesiastes made memorable the ancient truth, “For everything there is a season and for every activity under heaven its time.” But he was singularly unsuccessful in suggesting why life must be riddled with so many beginnings and endings.
Welcome again to a season of transitions!
Shortly after my ordination 40 years ago, a clergy-mentor friend sent a note containing an anonymous quote: “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.” I liked those words then and still do. I consider myself blessed because, if anything, I like the life of the local congregation more now than when I began those many years ago. Parish life is immensely rewarding partly because of the nature of community. It lifts us up when we’ve been knocked down. It upholds us while we negotiate difficult transitions, including coming out of a pandemic. It inspires us when we feel flat and it shapes us according to the life of Jesus. When we are elated, the community celebrates with us, and when we experience trauma and loss, the parish stands beside us with love and support. Our community of faith has the great possibility of being our life-blood through all the changes and chances of our world, pointing us to the One who creates and redeems and sustains life day by day.
The New Testament portrays Jesus as a constant agent of new life, of fresh beginnings — opening doors, breaking down barriers, cracking open old patterns, calling into being a new order, pointing to a springtime of hope and living into the eternal, beginning now.
Transitions are intriguing, sometimes difficult, and often full of promise. The nature of the Christian life is to be pilgrims on the way, guided and upheld by the Spirit. During the coming interim year, we will call upon the Spirit daily, with the promise that God will guide us well into the future.