For many of us moving into a new decade is a time for transition and this year it seems that we are inundated with transitions that mean change and growth but also insecurity and a certain amount of fear and trepidation.
First there are transitions in MSA
Friday evening we farewelled Judy Naegeli who has edited the MSA Seed Sampler for the last 3 years. She so enjoyed editing the ezine that she took a certificate course in editing at the UW now wants to spread her wings. She is looking for other editing jobs in the Seattle area.
Transitions require a lot of trust. A month ago we had no idea how this position would be filled but to our amazement God has provided two new team members both of whom will work with MSA half time. Andy Wade, who has recently returned to Hood River Oregon with his family after 12 years as a missionary in Hong Kong will be our new Seed Sampler co-ordinator. Cindy Todd who has also recently located with her family from Florida will act as my administrative assistant.
We are also going through transitions in the Mustard Seed House as the downstairs apartment is empty and our remaining small community is seeking to discern what God is saying to us in this season.
Transitions require a lot of listening and discernment. I find that during times of transition I need to protect listening times – both personally and for the MSA team. It is in the place of quiet and silence that we are most able to listen to the still small voice through which the Spirit of God so often speaks to us. Centering our lives as the Quakers do on the truth revealed through the inner light of Christ is, I have found one of the foundations that enables me not just to cope with change but also to grow closer to God and God’s ways through that change.
Tom and I are also aware of transitions in our own lives. This next week I celebrate my fifty ninth birthday, and as I head towards my sixtieth year I am aware that the coming years could bring many transitions. Last night we heard that a good friend of Tom’s had died suddenly and unexpectedly of a stroke. Sobering events like this make us very aware of the frailty and uncertainty of life.
A number of years ago I read a book by Lyle Schaller entitled Strategies for Change in which he talked about the need to establish stability zones in our lives. More than anything what helps us cope with transition is the knowledge that there are some foundations in my life that will remain the same.
Establishing good spiritual disciplines is probably the most important thing any of us can do proactively to enable us to cope with with change and transition. More than anything what gives me a sense of stability at this time are the faith practices that I do on a regular basis, practices that were established 10, 15 sometimes 20 years ago. Reading my bible each morning, morning and evening prayers with the other members of the Mustard Seed House, Sabbath observances that Tom and I share each week are the practices that anchor my soul and make it possible for me to remain secure in the midst of rapid change.
Last but not least I think that all transitions should be marked with celebration. Evidently the Jews had celebrations for everything good and everything bad that happened in their history. Lauren Winner talks about this in her book Mudhouse Sabbath which I have mentioned before. Celebrations bring us together as a community, and it is only in community together that we are able to withstand the winds of change. And one of the important parts of celebration is the sharing of stories that remind us of God’s faithfulness in the past. These stories build expectation in us that God will continue to be faithful into the future.
One of the paradoxes of our faith is that we believe in a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, yet God is ever changing and ever creating. Or maybe I should rather say our understanding of God is ever changing because we all see through a glass dimly, and it is the ways we handle transitions in our own lives that add to our understanding and clear away some of the fog that dims our views of God.
Praise the Lord who is ever faithful.
Sing to God in the midst of hope
Sing to God of the good things of life
Sing to God when you weep and mourn
Lament and sing when life is hard
Praise God and rejoice in your maker
Praise the God who is always the same yet ever changing
Rejoice with the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end
Yesterday, today and forever the same
Let everything that has breath, praise the God of all life