This article was published in the September 2022 newsletter.

Can I be real a second, for just a millisecond
Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?

I’m no George Washington, but I can understand his frustration in “Right Hand Man” (from the hit Broadway musical Hamilton) as he lists the frustrations and anxieties he faces as the commander of the nascent American forces. Lack of resources, funding, support, and training threaten to derail the entire revolution before it’s truly begun. As leader, he is supposed to be the face of composure and encouragement…but sometimes it’s necessary to be real about the challenges that lie ahead.

I appreciate his willingness to be candid. We see the same in the prophets, and in Jesus’ own ministry: a realness that never ignores hope or the possibility of transformation, but does not use the notion of blessing (#blessed, anyone?) to paper over problems. One of my goals in ministry is to cultivate the same environment within our congregation and community: to hold hope and struggle in tension together, to face obstacles head-on while remembering who and whose we are.

We are at a crossroads of our own, facing the opportunity to clarify and more deeply live into our specific purpose in this community. This is complex work, inviting us to confront the needs of the community; our own needs; and the structural sins that stand in the way of God’s vision for us: poverty, racism, and others.

During this season, we will take an intentional pause at the crossroads to engage in a time of active learning and discernment. There will be several opportunities in the coming months to participate in study and conversation about where God is leading us and what tools we need to follow God effectively. This is an intentional pause because it is not the wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness; it is the preparation of God’s people to move and act. The season of action is approaching, and with God’s help we will be ready.

I pray that you each approach this season with open hearts and minds, with curiosity and excitement about where God will reveal God’s self in our preparation. I also pray that you will be real with me, with yourself, and with one another—bring your full self into this time, and never be afraid to share what’s on your heart.

Pastor Shannon