Two Things Can Be True at Once

Welcome, welcome, welcome.  I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations, and conditions. I welcome everything that comes to me today because I know it’s for my healing. I let go of my desire for power and control. I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval, and pleasure. I let go of my desire for survival and security. I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person, or myself. I open to the love and presence of God, and God’s healing action within.  Amen.

I’ve been praying this prayer a lot lately.  I first learned it a couple years ago when I was in the contemplative cohort with Rev. Joe Stabile, my long-time spiritual director and friend.  It helps me navigate situations of uncertainty, feelings that make me uncomfortable and lots of other situations that I’d honestly just rather not welcome!

I know many of you are feeling grief, uncertainty and would really rather not welcome the news of last Sunday regarding the resignation of Revs. Ryan and Suzanne Motter.  I know because so many of you have reached out this week to share your reactions and ask questions.

As we enter this season of transition, we are excited for this opportunity for the Motters because they will advance the brand of practicing God’s real, radical and inclusive love in a new place!  We are excited for more and stronger congregations with similar values.  We are grateful for the opportunity for Ryan and Suzanne to serve in full-time ministry alongside one another. As I said Sunday, Mr. Steitz and I have over a decade of that experience and it is an absolute gift!  We are thrilled this new call moves them closer to Suzanne’s family.  All of those feelings are real and true and yet….

We are also grieving.  And that’s okay.  We have to honor it and pay attention to it - even as we are excited for them.   Two things can be true at once.

As Rev. Ryan said in his letter to the congregation on Sunday, we have extraordinary lay leadership to help guide us through this transition time.  Our Executive Committee convened via Zoom just days after the Motters submitted their resignation to review the timeline and immediate next steps.  Their support and input during these first few days have been invaluable. This Tuesday, our executive committee meets for their regularly scheduled monthly meeting and we’ve extended an invitation to the entire Administrative Council.  Our Regional Minister, Rev. Bill Rose-Heim will join us to share how the process will unfold as we work with the Office of Search and Call to receive interested candidates. This process will include input for YOU to help us identify the most important characteristics and needs for our congregation as we move forward. Of course, we’ll also assemble a transition team aka search committee to begin their work, as well.  Watch your email for next Friday’s email with the recap of this meeting and a word from our moderator, George Flanagan.

Additionally, our elders will be meeting on August 6th to begin discussions on ways they can support our congregation during this time as well.  All that to say, our leadership is stepping forward with a hopeful commitment to our shared future.

Finally, I know many of you are asking (because you’re asking me), what can I do?  The immediate answer is simple - you can pray.  And we are going to help you by kicking off a new worship series this Sunday!  You can pray for the Motters and for the folk at Creekwood Christian Church.  You can pray for our congregation, our leadership, Park Hill Christian Church, and yes, for our entire staff. You can pray for the person whom we might call next - they might not even know who they are just yet!  You can pray for wisdom and vision.  You can pray for peace and patience - lots of patience.  Transitions like this can create lots of anxiety and we’ll need extra measures of grace with and for one another.

Finally, as I already suggested, you can be in worship for our new series - A Centered Summer.   We’ll center ourselves by praying the Welcome Prayer so that with grateful and willing hearts we are ready to embrace all that is in store for us!  You can learn more about the Welcome Prayer (shared above) at the Center for Contemplative Outreach.

We’ll center ourselves in praying the same Psalm together every week. This week, I invite you to join me in praying Psalm 4 as translated and adapted by Stephen Mitchell:

Even in the midst of great pain, Lord, I praise you for that which is.

I will not refuse this grief or close myself to this anguish.

Let shallow men pray for ease: “Comfort us; shield us from sorrow.”

I pray for whatever you send me, and I ask to receive it as your gift.

You have put a joy in my heart greater than all the world’s riches.

I lie down trusting the darkness, for I know that even now you are here.

There will be lots more information unfolding in the weeks ahead.  Rev. Suzanne’s last Sunday at Park Hill Christian will be July 30 and we’ll celebrate all the Motters on Rev. Ryan’s last Sunday with ONE worship service on August 20th.  I’ll leave you with one final word, from the ancient mystic Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well…for there is a force of love, moving through the universe that holds us fast and never lets us go.”

May it be so,

Rev. Shanna