John Lennon once observed that life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans. This truism has been on inner repeat as I consider the life of our Rocky Mountain Conference right now.
As I mentioned in worship last Sunday, Rev. Dr. Anthony Scott, our Associate Conference Minister, was terminated in late November. Following on the heels of that hard news came a retirement announcement from Rev. Sue Artt, our Conference Minister for the last ten years. Sue will wrap up her ministry in our midst in late February. Both departures bring significant unanticipated changes to the RMC, ones that will no doubt place a heavy load on our one remaining staff member, Rev. Erin Gilmore until such time as our Board of Directors appoints an interim Conference Minister.
Change is nearly always difficult to manage, and all the more so when it comes during the weeks leading up to Christmas. This is the time of year when we want everything to go smoothly and when we crave constancy and peace.
As we encounter unwelcome changes (even threats of change) this month, we can find help in the story of Christ’s coming to us. That story is filled with countless upsets and surprises—from the news of a most unexpected, unusual pregnancy to the need to travel to pay taxes to the lack of suitable housing once Joseph and Mary landed in Bethlehem.
Our sacred story this month is one of God’s entering fully into the messiness (literal and figurative) of life so that light might shine and peace might come. Isn’t this how God tends to operate—finding us not when everything is running smoothly, and we are managing quite nicely but rather breaking into our lives when difficulties surface and threats (real or imagined) loom large?
Whether your journey this month is bumpy and messy or whether it’s fairly smooth sailing, whether it feels like darkness is closing in or light is radiating from every corner, know that God is ever near and can be relied upon to impart the qualities we lift up each week as we move through Advent: hope, peace, joy, and love. One of our names for Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us. May it be that even before we celebrate his birth on the 25th, we feel our God very much with us.