Love Notes... A few words from our pastor

“This is real good church!”
“What lovely blessing your congregation has given you.”
“Wow. Just wow.”

These comments, and more than a hundred like them, were responses to a Facebook post I made following my Tuesday meeting with Leadership and the Finance Ministry Team and their wildly loving, deeply moving decision to compensate me during an unplanned but necessary three-month absence while I care for my 93-year-old mother in California after she fell at home and bruised her brain just before Christmas.

I made the Facebook post because I knew that my UCC colleagues across the country might appreciate a respite from the anxious, addled posts so often left on that page. Many clergy are still feeling ground down by the pandemic, are serving churches in decline or deficit, or minister in settings where the way of the world has slowly overtaken the path Jesus sets before us. I hoped with my post that my colleagues might be lifted up by the story of one small but mighty church (that’s YOU) who dares to trust in the goodness and graciousness of God, even in times of challenge and uncertainty.

When I called Leadership and the Finance Team together earlier this week, I said only that I needed three months of unpaid leave to walk my mother through her recovery and attendant choices. We went on to discuss creative options for Sundays through April. Then I left the Zoom room to let them sort this out. When I rejoined them, their faces were full of light, and their bold decision even more so. I’m still reeling.

But I’m doing more than reeling. I’m feeling an immense amount of pride that Community Spirit is the kind of church that lives what it proclaims—and in every way a church possibly could. One of my Facebook responders wondered if Tuesday’s Spirit-led decision wasn’t reflective of our youth as a church. Maybe. But it’s also because the people whom God has gathered here chose, at every turn, to BE the church, that is, to love as fully as humanly possible.

Leadership has lots of creative ideas for Sunday worship when you’re at the Ute. I’ll be online with you as I can. Candace Woods has offered to cover pastoral emergencies through April—should any arise. Leadership will respond to gaps and needs as they arise.

What I thought was a journey turned out to be an odyssey (thank you, Marcia Coman, for stating this so well). But it’s more than that for us as a church. This might be our first big challenge since we formed in 2013–and already I see that we’re more than up to it. Better still, I know that God will use this season to strengthen and expand us in ways nothing else possibly could. I’m excited to see what unfolds!

With you on the journey (even at a distance),