01 Jan What We Can and Cannot Do
A New Year is before us. It is clear that this New Year will involve more than the usual amount of change. There is my retirement at the end of October. There is a legal suit from an alleged sexual abuse of a Boy Scout by a Scout leader of a Troop sponsored by our church, which happened in 1964. There is the reality that two members of my family who attended worship on December 12 have tested positive for COVID two days later. If it is true that good things, or bad things, come in threes, then maybe we have exhausted our challenges for now.
I can assure you that I am not happy to be dealing with a lawsuit or with the on-going challenges of COVID in my final year of ministry. It’s not what I had planned. I can imagine that from your perspective, this trifecta of uncertainty is more than a little bit unnerving. As we try to deal with all of this, I find myself wondering how my spiritual practice can “redeem” what is before us. How can yours?
In a culture dominated by the pleasure-pain principle, it is an easy option for people to simply cut-and-run from things that create discomfort. It’s an understandable response, but not one that will bring spiritual growth. Can this New Year be a time of growth for us in our journey toward God? Yes, I believe it can be.
Spirituality 101 says to face what is happening and seek to do so with an open and trusting heart. Notice the human reaction to seek quick fixes and assign blame. These are usually unconscious strategies which try to protect us from pain. But they also shut out clarity and creativity and growth. How might our experience be if we look at what is happening with openness, curiosity, and trust?
Of course, there is work to be done in this New Year. Session will get to work on forming a Search Committee for an Interim Pastor soon. We have secured highly competent legal counsel to guide us in this legal matter before us. Session will continue to address our worship life responsibly, ensuring that guidelines are followed. We are seeking to do what is ours to do.
There is a universal human tendency to worry and complain. We all need to recognize our feelings, whatever they are. We need to process our feelings. But we also need to work on releasing and integrating them consciously. There are certain things that we need to do. Let’s do them. There are other things that we cannot do—like guarantee the results we want and worry and complain that we cannot. Ultimately, this becomes a dead-end for us. More productively, we are to do what we can in a situation and to recognize that there are somethings which we cannot do. What we cannot do, it is best that we let go.
This is a time which needs all of us to be our best. It may not be an easy year, but it could be a year of tremendous growth if we seek deeply the abiding presence of God. Blessings on this New Year for us all!