Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions? Are they easy or difficult?
I gave up years ago. I decided if I really wanted to change something I would start then and not wait for the “magical day.” It’s made January much more pleasant but I’m not sure I have made the changes I really wanted to either.
It got me to wondering about why we so often fail to make those good and healthy changes. Then I started thinking about the word transition, I thought at first that it was interchangeable, but it just didn’t seem to sit the same way. So I turned to Pastor Rebecca’s library to see if there was some help. Guess what? There was a book about managing transitions. I quickly discovered the “change” and “transition” were very different and yet related.
It seems in order to change you have to manage the transition if you want success. It is taking time to grieve the loss of what was and work at letting go. Then, sitting in the middle ground where you are not quite to the new but you have let go of the old. Finally, making the new beginning, finding new purpose or reward in the change that you have made.
So often we take something, for example, getting healthy and jump right into the exercise or new food regime. For some this may work but for others maybe we need to look at a transition period. The need to take time to say good bye to some of those comfort foods, and couch potato times. Life will look different, we hope better but the fear that it may not turn out as good as we hoped can work at eroding the ability to really change. Then we can move into the change and begin claiming the good things that come from the change until we have found we are on a new and better path. Lasting change may be the result.
As a church we are looking at what changes may help us to better minister in our community, renew the congregation, and give us new life. We can talk about all kinds of ideas but we also need to share with one another what a transition may be like. What do we fear losing? How will a change affect me, our community, etc.? In the midst of dreaming let us also take time to be sensitive about the letting go and endings that may happen.
Please continue to pray for the church and all the possible ways we can change. What are the good things we can look forward to, what are the things we may need to grieve letting go. God is good and leads us on a path that is ever changing. “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.” (Psalm 143:10)
Blessings, Pastor Trina
It is good to join you on your journey for the coming year. Life has been and continues to be an adventure in following the Lamb. Alberta and British Columbia have been home for most of my life. From a young age I have been involved in a church at least for part of the year (my mother seemed to stop sending me in the winter and never started again until we moved). A long time ago churches sent out buses to pick up children for Sunday school, thus began my journey in earnest toward belief. I loved reading scripture in church and people would say I should become a preacher. What did they know? Apparently, a lot.
I began attending the Moravian church shortly before my daughter was born in 1987. I am thankful for the journey that took me to the folks in Bruderheim. When Ken and I met in 2002 we talked of all the dreams and possibilities that swam in our heads. I shared a growing desire to become a pastor. In 2004 I began seminary in Edmonton. Deciding to stay Moravian we ventured to Bethlehem, PA to finish seminary.
We left our three daughters and five grandchildren. Since then we have added three more grandchildren to our family and they have spread out over three provinces.
My first call was to Michigan after graduation in 2009. Boy, did I grow a lot. I looked forward to a long pastorate but God had other ideas.
In 2014 we set off for Kathmandu Nepal to help our friends with the preschool and be a part of the growing Moravian church there. We experienced joy and how earthquakes can really change your plans. God also taught us about the Ministry of Presence. Sometimes just being willing to “stick it out” gives others who can do more the courage to stick around and help. It was a great 10 months.
What do you do when God doesn’t show you how to stay where you want to be? Well I placed my name back onto the list as we moved back to the USA and waited for a call. An interesting appointment to Redeemer in Dublin, OH came up and we began a new phase of ministry. While there we were able to go back to Nepal twice and I spent a month working in Labrador and was privileged to attend the Unity Mission Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. Eventually Ken and I came to the decision that it was time to return home to Alberta. So here we are, God providing in interesting ways. I feel blessed to be here and I look forward to getting to know everyone as we see what God has for us to do.
Blessings, Pastor Trina
“Your future depends on how you remember your past. Choose for the truth of what you know. Do not let your still anxious emotions distract you. As you keep choosing God, your emotions will gradually give up their rebellion and be converted to the truth in you…. Do not be afraid. You are not alone…. Remember you are held safe. You are loved. You are protected. You are in communion with God and with those whom God has sent you. What is of God will last. It belongs to the eternal life. Choose it, and it will be yours.” Henri Nouwen from The Inner Voice of Love.
Someone shared this quote with me recently and I have been letting it roam around in my heart and mind since I heard it. When we choose God our lives may take turns we didn’t expect or imagine but we will learn and grow in ways that show us, sometimes only in hindsight, what purposes God had in shaking things up. I doubt we will ever know the fullness of how God has used us in the grand plan of Christ’s reign in the world but we do get glimpses once in a while.
It seems so often that the actions in our past, the tangible pieces of our past take precedence over the reasons for taking those actions. To be fair, it can often be easier to remember the actions because their may be pictures, paperwork, evidence that these things happened. But the ways we came to those decisions may have been the result of the gradual, reflective and quiet working of our hearts and minds. If you are like me, keeping a journal of that work is a difficult discipline, you may have no record at all of the “Why” behind your choices. But this thought from Henri Nouwen has helped me to reflect on the importance of remembering the “why” as much as the “what” in my memories. How might it help us, if we can remember the why and how we approached actions in our past in order to hold those up against the why and how we are approaching the future? What might God be doing in us to prepare us for something that is just out of reach? How can we help each other to trust in a future the is uncertain yet known because God is in control of it?
In the coming year our congregation will be invited to consider our future. I am certain that God is with us and that we are not alone in discerning how to move forward with love for the world and proclamation of the Gospel in Edmonton. I hope that we will be able to do this work with great hope and joy but I do not know that it will be without visitations of grief and sadness. But here again I reflect on Nouwen’s words, words the echo the words of the Gospels, “Do not be afraid.” God’s promises last and we are not alone to seek them out and to live as people of the Way.
As I take my maternity leave I want you all to know that I am so very grateful for this gift of time with my children and family. I also want you to know that my prayers, my commitment and my hopes are still with our church family as well. This call from God to discern the future is a call we share. Let us help each other to keep choosing God and trusting that God will lead us well through whatever the future holds!
As I look out on what may be the last days of green leaves and grassy hills for a while, I am aware that as the fall approaches we are looking towards an interesting year ahead. With new conversation circles starting up, maternity leave changes coming in December and all of the unknowable changes that may come with the changing seasons there is much to look forward to and to prepare for.
What are your routines of preparation? Do you have a way of clearing out your gardens, saving the last of your vegetables, and setting up for the winter that will come? How do these routines mirror the practices of faith and preparation you use as we enter into the end of the church year and look towards the advent season of new beginnings? Sometimes this routine is simply taking time to look around and see what is already happening.
I was recently invited to attend a community roundtable discussion at United on Whyte, the new United Church that was formed after 4 area United Churches decided to merge into one congregation. They invited local congregation leaders and community organizations to be in conversation about the needs of our community. It was an energizing and informative morning.
Did you know that many of the agencies that work to provide food, safety, resources and support to us and our neighbours could use places to connect with clients and neighbours?
Did you know that there are many ways to support the important work that is happening in our community with resources we have on hand?
Do you know that we are already doing some of this work through our partnership with WECAN, the neighbour centre, and the interfaith centre?
We have been prepared for service in our communities and as we see these opportunities I pray we are encouraged to take them!
What does it mean to Follow Jesus? As Christians this question should be a regular one that we are asking and addressing in our lives. After all following is about movement and when we are moving we have to pay attention to our surroundings as they change. We wouldn’t suggest that the driver of the car, we are riding in, not look both ways before turning left or not to keep their eyes open for stop signs and pedestrians, right? I wonder if we haven’t gotten so used to hearing the words “Follow Jesus” that we have forgotten that it reflects action and engagement.
So, just in case, I thought I would take some time to think about what I mean when I say I am a follower of Jesus. Maybe this simple exercise will help you to think about your own discipleship too. Here is what I did.
I sat down and made a list for myself in response to these two questions:
Where do I see the movement of Jesus in my community (not just EMC)?
Where do I see my daily life intersecting with Jesus’ movement in the community?
I realized, that while I saw some ways, that Jesus was working, I also became aware that I hadn’t spent much time actually looking for Jesus out there. The intersections between my daily routines and Jesus’ routine were fewer than I would like. It is like I had been driving my car but without ever seeing where I had been. I am a firm believer that it is always a good idea to check in with yourself once in a while. It can be a helpful way to keep your focus on God in your life and a gentle reminder of routines that may divert our attention from God’s call to be disciples.
So as I was thinking about what it means for me to follow Jesus, it seems the first step is to spend some more time looking around for where Jesus is on the move and going there to join him. You wanna come too? I would love some company.
Check out the work of Greg Finke, who is the author of “Joining Jesus on His Mission.” https://dwelling114.org/