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God is With Us | A Message From Pastor Heather

I have always considered myself someone who doesn’t mind change. It is an inevitable part of life and it keeps me alert to the fresh movements of the Spirit. New song in church? Great, I am eager to learn. Different host on my favorite NPR show? No problem. I love a new voice and perspective. A remodel at my favorite grocery store? Well, that’s a step too far.  
My boys were young when my local grocery store did a remodel.. Grocery shopping involved dragging the two boys with me, chasing after Sam as he ran down  the cookie aisle in the hopes of snagging Oreos, and stopping Ben from reaching behind his perch in the front of the cart to grab the cherry popsicles from the basket and start eating them.
My main goal, when shopping with the boys, was to get in and out as fast as possible. Sometimes, luck would be in my favor  and they would stay home with their father, but my goal remained the same.  In and out quickly so that my husband was still alive, and not tied up, wearing a toilet paper mummy costume, by the time I got home. I didn’t want to spend precious minutes searching for Goldfish Crackers and string cheese at the store.
The first time I walked into the store after the remodel, I almost started to cry.  All my beliefs about my willingness to roll with change shattered. It turned out that change was hard for me, like for anyone else, when it touched something that I held dear - in this case my intimate knowledge of where to find peanut butter and breakfast cereal. My list was long and nothing was the same as before. Suddenly the peanut butter was with the jam which was next to the canned fruit instead of in the bread aisle. I went home without ketchup because my sanity mattered more than a condiment.
I often remember that feeling when making changes at church. For many of us, being at church is familiar and comforting. It is a place we come to connect with God and our faith family. When things are different it can be unsettling.  I get that.
But, change is a natural part of life, even when we don’t like it.  I still don’t know why the grocery store chose to do a remodel.  Perhaps there was dry rot in the walls that needed repair. Maybe produce started out selling pasta and a reconfiguration of space was necessary.   Or, maybe new management took over and just made changes to bring the store more in line with their leadership style.  No matter the reason, change is both inevitable, exciting, and uncomfortable all at the same time.
This church, like the rest of the world, has been through so much change in the last two years due to the pandemic.  On-line only worship, worship with no singing, worship with masks, Livestream worship, Holy Communion with prepackaged elements, two worship services consolidated into one worship service, worship service time changes, denominational tensions….whew.  I have to take a deep breath after that list. The amount of transition, not even considering the pastoral and staff changes, is staggering. And all of this during a time of global and personal instability. The church, often our touchstone during times of upheaval, has been in its own state of flux.
So here we are, over two years into the uncertainty of a pandemic, with an entirely new pastoral staff, and turn over in the office staff as well. I want to say, Dear Church, that you are courageous and faithful in your perseverance through these changes. You are an inspiration to me and you remind me that even when everything around us seems to be shifting, the foundation we have in Jesus is solid. It is what binds us together, it is what calls us to love without condition, it is our cornerstone when the world feels like it is crumbling around us.
Pastor Alexa and I understand that these transitions are difficult. You have received us with such joy and hope. It has been a true gift. We have been praying for you and anticipating our time with you long before we began our work among you. Every day, I continue to offer prayers of gratitude that I get to serve as your pastor alongside Pastor Alexa and the wonderful staff team that is in place and that we will form together.
As we move forward together, we will all begin to find our rhythm, just as I did years ago when my peanut butter moved aisles. I soon learned the new location of all my favorite items and along the way I discovered some new foods I might not have noticed without the change, like tomatillos which make the best green chili!  These days, I push my cart serenely through the aisles since my children are no longer young enough to shop with me, a sign of the ever-changing nature of life.  
Pastor Alexa and I have been with you just a few weeks but we are already beginning to discover your heart language in worship, your deep generosity, your collaborative nature, and your abiding love for this church. There are many things yet for us to learn, so we continue to ask for your grace, patience, and prayers.
We each bring our own unique skills (if you haven’t heard Pastor Alexa lead a sung communion liturgy you are missing out!) and our own perspectives. Naturally, these are different from the gifts shared with you by Pastors Peter and Amanda. When things feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable, please come talk to us.  We understand the grief that comes in saying good-bye to beloved pastors and we thank you for opening your arms to receive us as your new pastors. We know that change brings discomfort as well as new opportunity. We want to companion you during this time of transition.  
May God be with us as we begin this new adventure together and, in times of trial, may we remember the foundation we have in Jesus, the One who entered into our world to remind us that through it all, and best of all, God is with us.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Heather

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