LINGERING, LISTENING, AND BEING RENEWED
As I write this, I am preparing to join an online webinar offered by one of our sister synods in the ELCA. The topic is “Leading the Church in a Lingering Pandemic.” I know many of you have talked about how your own workplaces and favorite restaurants and neighborhood shops are negotiating this part of the pandemic. Who knew the hardest part would come at the end?!
All of us yearn for a return to a kind of normalcy, and all of us continue to face the many daily decisions about how to find the pandemic exit ramp. I’m excited to discover new ideas at this webinar, because I know how challenging it can be to “linger” at a margin ... any margin. The transition from one thing to another often sounds like a kind of existential off/on switch: one day we are here; the next we are there. The truth, though, is that most transitions in life are more gradual. There is usually an in-between space. And more often than we’d like, we find we need to linger there.
The pandemic is not the only in-between space in which Zion is lingering these days. The call process continues. The call committee is working hard. There are conversations and evaluations and interviews. But Zion is not yet at the end of this interim journey. Your new pastor is coming, but for now you linger at the margin between your last settled pastor and your next one.
In some ways, the summer is always a kind of in-between space — though at least this is one in which we like to linger. For students and teachers and families, the pace of one academic year is behind you and the next one is still on the horizon. There may be travel and leisure time that breaks up the regular work schedule. There is (hopefully) a little more lingering space for visiting with friends, relaxing with a good book, or taking a walk in nature.
When we get to the end of July, we will begin a five week period where we hear Gospel lessons from the same section of John’s Gospel. (Although, this year, we do get one week “off” in August to celebrate the Commemoration of Mary, the Mother of our Lord). It is atypical to linger with a Bible text for that many weeks in a row. The story comes from the 6th chapter of John and focuses on Jesus as the Bread of Life. I hope you will find some important lingering time during this month. I hope you will find opportunities for sabbath-keeping and for the refreshment of your spirit. I pray you will find yourselves nourished at the margins by the Bread of Life.
Peace to you,