Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
31 years ago, today, I sat in my office at TLC and cried. It was an exciting and deeply emotional time for me and my family. We had spent four wonderful and formative years on Bainbridge Island while serving Bethany Lutheran Church. Our daughters had been born and had been embraced by the parish. We had many close friends on Bainbridge Island. Then Jesus messed with our lives, chased us down and said, “Follow me to Whidbey Island.”
31 years ago, today, I sat in my office and cried. My office, by the way, was a 6’ by 6’ hole, without a window. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, what I had gotten my family into. On Bainbridge we rarely worried about money, we had a capable staff to run programming, and many young professionals who were only a phone call away. At TLC we did not even have paid office support. Our organist worked 4 hours a week, and a high school student spent even less time cleaning the church. That was it!
31 years ago, today, I sat in my office and cried. I did not know where I was going or where God was leading, but this much I did know; there was no going back. We could not go back to Bainbridge Island. That ferry had left the terminal.
When the children of Israel fled from slavery in Egypt, they made their way down to the Red Sea. There were mountains on each side of them and the sea before them. And now, advancing up the valley toward them, was the most powerful army in the world. There were only two directions that they could go, back to slavery or into the sea. Some would have chosen to return to slavery, after all it was all that they had known. Slavery for hundreds of years, but they had weathered the plagues of Egypt, they had watched Moses fight for their freedom. They had simply come too far to go back.
2020 has been quite a year. We continue to deal with the pandemic. We have not been able to worship together, assorted weather disasters have blown and burned our country, there has been violence on our streets and chaos in our government. There are a lot of ways that we could go with this mess, some positive and some negative, but it is clear that we cannot go back.
We cannot go back to a time when our gay and lesbian family members did not have equal rights and the opportunity to marry whomever they wished. We cannot forget the blood-stained history of the Civil Rights movement and return to a day when people were judged by the color of their skin. We must not negate the hard-fought achievements of the women’s movement. We cannot return to a day when we treated the environment and the resources of the earth with disdain.
No one knows where we will go from here. Will we be wearing masks for a year or forever? Will we once again welcome the refugee and the immigrant? Will our country be able to recapture the sentiment of President Reagan’s farewell address? “I’ve spoken of the Shining City all my political life. In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”
31 years ago, I sat in my office and wept. The next day I would be installed as your pastor; there was no going back. There can be no going back. We must go forward in faith, working diligently for peace and justice, and following Jesus all the days of our lives.
One day closer,