Pastor’s Corner (8/19/2021)
For some of us the great transformation from the inside out comes gradually. For some of us it comes swiftly. But for all of us it comes inevitably as we unite more closely to the One who brings the yeast, salt, wind, and fire of the new creation-the deep self we have always longed to be.
–Flora Slosson Wuellner
In my previous Pastor’s Corner, I shared the above quote and invited us to ponder: how can we, here at FCC, be a community of transformation and not just one of change? In her article for Weavings entitled “Transformation: Our Fear, Our Longing” Wuellner invites the reader to consider the differences between change and transformation. As I reflected on her article, I went on to think: how has God brought about, and is currently bringing about, transformation in our own lives? That question invites us to go on and consider: how do we experience transformation as a community? So many of us want to see an end to COVID-19 and there is a great deal of conversation about “returning to normal.” Now a lot of the conversation focuses on the questions “what is normal and what will the new normal look like?” I believe the more faithful consideration would be: how has God brought about transformation in our lives and church? How can God continue to enable us to be a place of transformation as we move into the future? As Wuellner points out,
“For some of us the great transformation from the inside out comes gradually. For some of us it comes swiftly. But for all of us it comes inevitably as we unite more closely to the One who brings the yeast, salt, wind, and fire of the new creation-the deep self we have always longed to be.”
Perhaps our transformation has been so gradual that we have not really noticed it. As I think about my own life, this rings true. Much of the long lasting transformation in my life has happened so gradually that I have not always made note of it. I think of my efforts to live a healthier life. There is a reason I am a “Life-long member” of Weight Watchers. I have struggled with weight issues most of my adult life which has meant gaining and losing weight several times. After living in the land of dumplings and pivo, I lost over 50 pounds after returning to the US from my service in the Czech Republic. I also try to exercise regularly and eat fewer dumplings. This has involved adopting new behaviors and has been a slow and gradual process. My efforts continue; some days I do well and some days I struggle. The changes in my body have been slow and gradual. Looking back, I can see the progress I have made which impels me into the future. I also know that I could not have done it alone. I have the support of others who share this journey, here at FCC and in my weekly Weight Watchers meeting. Our leader Joanne inspires us all and our shared community provides ongoing support. I suspect all of us can think of a time when we have experienced slow and steady transformation. At the same time, there may be times in our lives when transformation has been swift and dramatic. Those experiences are often easier to name. Whether the path to transformation has been gradual or swift, it is so important that we take time and make space to recognize and celebrate it.
I think there are also signs of new life and transformation all around us here at FCC. One of the most significant signs for me is the opportunity to work with two different people who are discerning their calls to ministry. These two individuals are concluding their seminary training and will graduate with Masters of Divinity degrees. These two “Seminarians in Residence,” Kelly Tyrrell and Leigh Todd Lestina, will be taking active leadership roles in our ministry here at FCC. You will see them leading worship, preaching, teaching, providing pastoral care, and sharing their gifts in our various teams and committees. Part of our responsibility, yours and mine, will be to provide opportunities for them to share their growing pastoral skills and providing substantive and helpful feedback. As we share in their journey of transformation, we will be transformed as well. I suspect their energy and enthusiasm will be contagious.
These opportunities to share in the formation of future pastoral leaders has not come around for some time. We have been, and will continue to be, blessed by their desire to serve Christ in the Church. As we participate in their transformation may we also accept the invitation to be transformed ourselves. In these unique times we have an opportunity to embrace transformation in our own lives, in our faith community, and in our world. We are reminded over and over again that “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away, see, everything has become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17, NRSV)
With a spirit of anticipation and hope for the future,