Dear St Matthew’s Family,
Wow. We are already at the end of the first month of 2022! I know it’s been a hectic start with the winter weather and the Omicron variant; still, I hope 2022 is finding you well or at least mostly well.
As we cross into the third year of Covid, I recognize that many of us are weary, stressed, and just frustrated. Our repeatedly dashed hopes of returning to “normal” have only exacerbated those feelings. My prayers of patience and well-being are with you. Let us continue to breathe and take heart that amidst what can feel like setbacks, recurring challenges, and feelings of not knowing what to do, we are moving forward and we are all working towards what will inevitably become new normals and new opportunities. For those of us who embrace change, this is good, even great, news; and for those of us who don’t, well… let us all practice together with an open and gentle spirit as we seek God’s direction and call.
The work of the Transition Team has begun. The team is working to organize how best to hear the thoughts, dreams, and opinions of as many people in the congregation as possible. In the coming months they will be reaching out to groups and individuals. With that information they will put together a collective understanding of who St. Matthew’s is and what we hope to be in the future. What they put together will be what pastors see as they and St Matthew’s discern who best to work with for our collective future. The team will continue to offer information in the eBlast to keep you abreast of their work and their progress. You might add them and their work to your prayers.
Prayer. I’ve been thinking about prayer a lot lately. The prayers we offer, the ones we don’t, and the ones God hears from our hearts. I’ve been thinking of prayer as a gift of faith. Not a gift as in, if you have faith you get to pray. But more a gift in the way that prayer walks with and through us as we walk through and embrace our life of faith. For some, prayer can be a calming and even meditative practice, bringing clarity and courage. For others, prayer is a challenge, as we feel unable to do it well, or to do it right, or we wonder if maybe we aren’t doing it enough.
Prayer is a practice that takes practice. Prayer can take many forms and sizes. For some, it is silence; for others, long words; for some it’s through a paint brush and for others through the kneading of bread. For some it is pause, and for others it is action. What is at the core, is a connection with God and with the light, wisdom, and purpose of each of us. Hence this is always our call, to venture into prayer and the listening and response it provides…especially in times of transition, when we pray for that which we cannot yet see and do not yet know. The Spirit of God—the Holy Spirit—meets us in those prayers.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
I want to suggest that maybe the most important work for all of us in this time of self-reflection as a congregation is prayer. The real work of thoughts and prayers, “you are in my thoughts and prayers” made real. The more clarity we can come to about ourselves as a congregation and as individuals, the more clearly we can envision our future and what we need to rise up to its calling.
Praying with you!