Boxes and More Boxes
Boxes. They’re great for holding things and storing things and transporting things. But it seems as though I’ve been surrounded by boxes for the past two months – maybe because I have! Packing things to move down here; watching the movers load all those boxes into their truck one day in Gary and then unload them the next day after they surely were fruitful and multiplied – I swear they did! – once they arrived here in Bloomington; and then trying to unpack and find places for everything. And whatever made me think labeling the boxes “[Room] – Misc.” was helpful?
Moving, and boxes, is just part of the transition of accepting a new appointment. There’s also learning your way around a new city, finding the best places to buy groceries and gas and the best places to eat out occasionally, finding new doctors and hair stylists and vets, setting up utilities and internet and phone and figuring out this thing about stickers and trash. There’s learning the names of your co-workers, and the congregation, and trying to figure out the culture of the church. Oh, and of course, there are things like doing your job: preaching and teaching and meetings and planning and dreaming. I’m breathless just writing about it, much less living it!
Transitions are hard. Change is hard. Even if the change is good or happy – like a new baby or a wedding – it’s still hard. And working through everything that goes with those changes and transitions: well, that’s what makes them hard, isn’t it?
What’s helped you with changes and transitions in the past? Encouragement? I’ve been so grateful for all the cards and words of encouragement and welcome I’ve received from so many of you, both before I arrived and since I got here. They really lifted my spirits and made me feel part of First Methodist, even before my boxes and I arrived in Bloomington. What about recommendations? So many people have been willing to share thoughts about their favorite restaurants, shopping areas, doctors, lawn care providers, and the many other large and small things that make a new area begin to feel like home. And you’ve all been so welcoming at church. That makes a big difference to a pastor transitioning into a new appointment. You’ve provided guidance when I’ve looked lost; you’re helping me learn about First Methodist. Never underestimate the need for good guidance.
We’ve always needed guidance in our lives, and especially in our transitions. Isn’t it amazing how timeless the teachings of the Bible are, and how we can apply them to our lives even today? I’ll bet you’ve noticed that as we’ve been working our way through “The Story.” Once you get to the heart of the stories, God’s guidance proves sound, over and over.
Our story this week is no exception. Israel had a great king, perhaps the greatest king they ever had: King David. But all good things come to an end, and as the Bible says, “David lay down with his ancestors and was buried in David’s City.” (1 Kings 2:10) And Israel was faced with its own transition to a new king: to David’s son, Solomon. This change wasn’t without drama, despite David choosing Solomon as his successor.
Almost like Aladdin and the Genie, Solomon was granted the opportunity to request whatever he wished from God. What would you choose if given such a choice? Fame? Wealth? Long life? As it turns out, because God was so pleased with Solomon’s choice of discernment, God granted him all of these things in addition to wisdom. There was just one catch: Solomon had to continue to walk in the ways of God, obeying God’s laws and commands. Could he do that? What do you think?
First Methodist is in the middle of a lot of transitions right now. And, as previously noted, transitions are hard. Change is hard. Pastor Mark has said that he doesn’t remember experiencing this many personnel changes all at the same time ever before. Sometimes it can feel as though we’re standing in quicksand with nothing to hang onto when there’s so much change happening around us.
But there’s good news: we do have something to cling to. And that’s God. God always walks with us, through the rocky periods as well as the smooth ones. God illuminates the path for us, providing us with the guidance we need. We just have to follow God’s ways. Can we do that?
Pastor Mark has set a vision. He’s worked – and continues to work – with the leadership team of this congregation to get good people into the positions needed. We’re all excited to work with all of you to make this next chapter here at First Methodist great. I hope you are too.
Transitions – and change – can be scary. But we don’t have to fear. God is with us.
~ Pastor Teri