“Mary kept all these things in her heart and pondered about them often.” (Luke 2:19)
Words like “interim” and “transitional” best describe how I sense personal life and ministry these days. So I’m glad I last year picked “flexibility” as “my word” to guide moving, living, and being. Overall, I’m eager and excited to experience how the Spirit will lead you, me, and us in the coming months and years.
“Secret things belong to the Lord, and future things are secret things. When you try to figure out the future, you are grasping at things that are Mine. This, like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion: doubting my promises to care for you,” author Sarah Young writes in the first-person of Jesus.
Go ahead and pronounce me guilty. As it relates to the future, my Lenten confession admits that I worry and fret too much, and I trust and rely too little.
In repentance, I’m incorporating a new attitude into my mindset: resilient — similar to “flexible” yet more muscular. “Flexible” bends without breaking when adapting to new situations. And that’s a good thing. “Resilient” is all that and more. It bounces back when you’re hit hard. Really hard!
Resiliency is more art than science. Practice makes perfect, like all sports or leisure activities. The more you do it, the better you get. And over the years, I’ve surely had opportunities to practice the fine art of resiliency.
In my parents I had good mentors. They came of age during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the World War of 1940s. When it came to flexibility and resilience, they did it well, because they’d been there and done that — deftly surviving global economic collapse, wartime rationing, and a Cuban missile crisis. Easily rattled they were not.
And much of their hand-to-mouth days they remembered fondly: “We didn’t even know that we were poor,” they would recall. (Although, on some level I’m sure they did.)
Regardless, when I was coming of age, pitfalls and setbacks that befell our household stood no chance in the face of my parent’s resilient determination to bounce back from circumstances beyond their control. Such tough times are the stuff of nurtured hope, not in the sense of starry-eyed, wishful thinking but in the sense of assurance — confidence that God really is present in changing times and really will work together unto good in the midst of life’s ebbs and flows.
A time of comings and goings is where our shared life and ministry finds itself on this eve of springtime. Our office manager, Michelle Gress, has accepted full-time employment, which means she’ll have less time and energy to share in support of God’s work among us.
Elder Jim Johnson has offered to take over all bookkeeping responsibilities from Michelle. At our meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Session accepted Jim’s offer and appointed him “volunteer bookkeeper.” In the coming weeks he and Michelle will partner to transfer responsibilities. Jim will continue to serve as an active Session member and co-moderator of the Finance and Stewardship Committee with Elder David Hahn. But he no longer will be an authorized check-signer of church accounts. Treasurer Al Rissman will continue to oversee and coordinate deposits of tithes, offerings, and other income.
For her part, Michelle will continue to prepare bulletins and newsletters, sort postal, e-mail and voicemail, order supplies and deal with vendors, and provide clerical support to staff, Session, deacons and committees. She will work three to five hours a week all on flextime. She will not have regular office hours but is available to meet with anyone by appointment. Her personal cell phone number is (563) 380-6771. Feel free to reach out to her anytime by voice or text.
For its part, Session will be evaluating the position of office manager to identify how best to make use of that role.
For my part, my hope for good things to come lies in flexibility and resilience, blessings through which God’s grace has always flowed in my interim seasons of transition and change.
Like Mary, let us keep all these strange and wonderful things in our hearts and ponder about them often.
— Pastor Grant