Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money. Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring.” James 4:13
My life tends to be planned months, if not years, ahead of time. I learned very early in my career that if I did not plan for the future, future plans would dominate my calendar. Weddings are planned a year in advance, churches and officiating clergy need to be secured as well. That means if I waited till spring to plan my summer, it would be too late. The weekends would be filled with weddings and other church events. In order to survive and to protect my family, I began what some might describe as obsessive long-range planning. I already have the summer of 2021 planned. In fact, the fall of 2021 is planned, too. I even have a trip to Israel in place for March 2022.
Now that my daughters are all grown-up, I have invited them into my obsession. I plan family vacations; all are welcome, but no one is obliged to show up. “Come, when and if you can, and stay as long as you like.” I throw dates and locations out and give them the option of attending. They are encouraged to make their work and family-planning schedules coincide with my vacation schedule. Thirteen months in advance, they get emails with the latest “Travel with Bapa” offering. It is not as complicated as it sounds. We usually go to Mexico after Christmas and Victoria in the summer. There have been occasional adventures to Sun Valley, the Oregon Coast, and to Disneyland once.
2020, needless to say, has been a train wreck. My calendar, like yours, tells a sad tale of hopes and dreams unfulfilled. Each month brings a new series of cancellations on a calendar that looks like a preschool art project gone bad. In July, my entire team had secured time off and made arrangements to meet on the Inner Harbor of Victoria. Of course, the Canadian border is closed. Maybe next year. Don’t worry; I already have reservations for next year.
It is clear that this contagion is not done with us. I am not even sure that it has yet arrived on Whidbey Island. The path going forward is daunting, precarious, and impossible to predict. The Trinity Preschool, like the public schools, is developing numerous contingency plans for classes this September. What we do know is that Preschoolers are not the best at wearing masks or social distancing. What we don’t know is if we can provide a safe environment for children, teachers, and their families. In a similar vein, your church staff will be meeting this week to talk about the possibility of reopening for Sunday morning worship. If we are to do so, every precaution will be taken to make reopening safe for congregants and staff. I would like to think that we are more trainable than preschoolers, but the fact remains that this virus is a threat to vulnerable populations. Most of our TLC members and staff fall into that category.
When this crisis began, some 120 days ago, the Trinity Church Council was in the midst of developing a new 5-year plan for the congregation. That planning, like our lives, has been put on hold. We simply cannot predict how this is all going to play out. I would encourage you to practice patience. Be patient as ferries are slow to run and the church is slow to open. Be patient with neighbors, family members, essential workers and strangers. Be patient knowing that everyone’s life has been disrupted, everyone’s plans have been discarded, no one has escaped the carnage of this contagion. Be patient knowing that depression and loneliness are perhaps a greater threat than the Coronavirus itself.
In 2020, our carefully planned lives look a little like our pathetic calendars. In 2020, love looks like an empty church. We need each other, more now than ever before.
One day closer. Anyone want to go to Israel in 2022?
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