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A Letter From Pastor Anita: Change

Behold I am doing a new thing, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:18-19

I hate change…

Two days after the lockdown my car died. It was not an unexpected death. All the signs were there: age, systems failing one after the other, engine noises that resembled a large truck not a small SUV. Idling at the McDonald’s drive-thru window became an embarrassing experience. As you can imagine, it was a rather unpleasant car to drive, but I had resolved to drive that car until it died. Then it did, right in the middle of a pandemic when no one could enter a car dealership or test drive a car. We managed sharing one car for several months. I kept dragging my feet, refusing to look online at possible replacements. My excuse was that I was too busy managing a church during a pandemic. But the truth is, I hate change! Some of you like the smell of a new car. You like exploring all the new gadgets. You like the shiny new exterior and the spotless interior. But for me, all that new meant change; and you now know what I think of change.

We have all had to face more changes recently than any of us like. Our patterns have been interrupted; our family gatherings have switched to Zoom moments; our homes have become school, office, gym and refuge all wrapped up in one increasingly claustrophobic bundle. The protests all around us are calling for change in our community that we often do not see as necessary. There have been blessings in this pandemic lockdown. Greg and I have walked more miles and shared more dinners together than we have in years. I know from talking to many of our families, walks and meals together have been a highlight during the past several months. But even with those blessings, we yearn for a return to normal. We want places open and calm to return. The bottom line for most of us is that we hate change. Yet, the Christian faith journey is all about change. The Bible repeatedly calls us to celebrate the new, to welcome the new, to be encouraged by the new, even to become new. God declares through the prophet Isaiah, “Behold I am doing a new thing, do you not see it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19) The description of the new is so good- “a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Yet, how many times did the people of God yearn for the good old days of brokenness. Do we? Lamentations offers us a promise of God’s unfailing love- “His compassions never fail; they are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-24) How good this sounds, yet how many times do we turn to the offerings of the world to fill us rather than trusting in God’s unfailing love? Paul writes to the Corinthian church, “If anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” (II Corinthians 5:17) How often I yearn for that new person, stripped of my anxieties and broken habits; but at the same time, I cling to my old, broken person. Do you? John shares God’s revelation in the last book of the Bible, describing a “new heaven and new earth… a new Jerusalem coming down from heaven.” (Revelation 21:1-3) John is encouraging us to be a part of the new-God’s kingdom becoming real here in our midst. What an invitation, but still we yearn for what we know, because that new kingdom will demand that we change. Our aversion to change can be a significant stumbling block to our embracing of the new that God is bringing in and around us.

Much has changed in just a few short months at Lenape Valley Church. On Monday, June 29th we will launch a new website and new branding for the church. The new will give us a cleaner look and easier access to all our online offerings. Our Vacation Bible School will not be in person this year. Instead, we are going virtual. Our VBS staff has worked hard to create all the pieces of a VBS week, complete with a family pack of resources to bless our children not for one week, but for 5 weeks this summer. (Remember to sign up TODAY! your children and grandchildren. Tell your neighbors. You can even invite your friends in California.) As I write, I am serenaded by the sound of construction at work building new restrooms for the church. We now livestream our worship, positioning us to be what I call a “hybrid” churchonline and in person. Never again will our worship be bounded by four walls. And through all these changes, we have heard God’s call to be a new creation, God’s beautiful creation, eyes open and hearts ready to heal a nation torn by prejudice.

All these changes look so good on paper. But they are still changes. Healing the racial divide in our community will call us to look deep into our own hearts. When we go to the website, we will have to learn new pathways to the information you need. Our VBS has become an all-hands-on-deck experience with all of us enlisted onto the staff roster. Our restrooms are in process and won’t be done until sometime in August, so construction has become our new decorating motif at LVC. And when you come back to worship, you will notice right away that things look different. Painter’s tape marks social distance seating for those who worship in person. The chancel is decorated with shipping pallets and plants rather than chairs for a choir. The choir will not return until this pandemic is just a story for the history books. The position and movement of our worship leaders now must facilitate not just what we see in person but also what the camera sees. Our new technology now stretches across the back of the left side of the sanctuary. So many changes!

God is doing a new thing in our midst… we can’t help but see it at LVC… but the question is: will we embrace the new that God is doing in and through us?

With you in the midst,
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