Never look back — you're not going that way
Sorry if you were expecting an article from Pastor Maggie Berndt-Dreyer. We trust that she is feeling more at home at Celebration Lutheran in Sartell, Minnesota, by now.
I know a little about the staff that she has joined there. You see, my previous interim was serving at Celebration as that community of faith had previously said goodbye to a pastor who had served at Celebration for 25 years. I now have the opportunity to serve together with the people of Bethlehem as we prepare the ground for Bethlehem to call a new pastor.
This is now my third interim. I don’t think that this makes me an expert by any means. And even if I did, the dynamics of life related to the Covid-19 pandemic have changed the playing field of our lives together in churches, schools, businesses and communities.
Sorry if you were expecting wisdom tucked into this column. What can a pastor who has served in various roles for 33 years have learned over those years that will now be relevant in a fast-changing world?
I was reminded recently of a gag gift that I was given at a staff Christmas party where one person from the staff found a white elephant gift for one other staff member. Each staff person was asked to take the initials from the other person’s name and come up with an appropriately humorous gift. My initials are GJM. The motto that the gift giver came up for me was “Great Journeying Motto.” I then proceeded to unwrap a frame with the timely motto, “Never look back. You are not going that way.”
Perhaps that is a gem of wisdom that the prophet Isaiah envisioned for our generation, too. Isaiah 65:17-18 reads, “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.”
If God almighty is saying, “Don’t look back. I am not going that way,” maybe we shouldn’t either. Truly, God almighty has always claimed to be a God of transformation and renewal. That’s good news. Ours is the God who is good at providing new paths for walking forward in faith.
A Taize devotional once included this prayer: We turn to it as a conclusion to this article. “We ask Christ to help us look at others around us in our city and see our city … as God’s city. Amen.”