My first Sunday as pastor at PPUMC was July 3, 2011, almost exactly ten years ago today. I’ll take this opportunity to wish us happy anniversary! Congratulations to us! Anniversaries are fine occasions for a quick think back. It’s been a decade. What do I – what might you – remember?
You may recall, or this is the way it went: I was appointed – at rather the last minute. None of us knew a change was coming until the middle of May! It was a tumultuous spring and summer in several evident ways for the church community and for me. There was more change afoot than was welcome. And there was plenty of grief over unexpected and undesired loss. Sometimes that looked mad, or sad, or scared, or variations thereof.
Wow. If you re-read that last paragraph, it sounds a whole lot like recent history.
And not six weeks later, by the first Sunday of July, I was standing in the pulpit about as charged with energy as a neon sign, sharing a reflection called “The Long Hello.” Whatever manuscript I used is long gone, still I remember telling the story of climbing high into the mountains of Mexico – with an immersion learning group in seminary – to meet the indigenous people of a tiny village named Magdelena. I remembered then what I still remember, how the people sang to us in a language that was then translated into another language and then into another (the only one of the three I can speak and understand). How it took two hours. How worth it, it was.
Remembering might remind us. We have recently walked up mountains, beloved friends. We have traversed valleys. Much of this has been solitary work. Now we are coming back into each other’s presence – not knowing in what ways one another has been changed. We will need long hellos. We may need to translate for one another. We are bruised in places that might get accidentally bumped. We may, on the other hand, be overcome with joy at the sight of – who knows what! (Somebody’s pink carnation.) It may well take us awhile to relax in one another’s company.
And so, that’s what we’ll be doing. We’ll be long hello-ing, especially for the remainder of the summer. We’ll continue to work on our worship space and commitment to share an interactive and welcoming worship with people both in the sanctuary and through Zoom. Be assured that – barring unseen circumstances (a phrase we have learned to remember) – we’ll plan an elaborate Rally Day celebration in September!!
If I were to meet a man from Magdelena walking down a street in Minneapolis today, and if he were wearing the traditional clothing of the village, I would surge with recognition.
And I am certain we will recognize each other, even though we may feel that we’ve shed several skins since we were last in each other’s company.
I look forward to seeing you! On screen. In person. I wonder what the next ten years will bring!