Dear Siblings in Christ,
Times of transition can be difficult. Obviously, here at St. Paul’s you know this well. This congregation has experienced significant transitions over the last ten years, and even as some of those transitions are not fully resolved, we find ourselves in the midst of more transition.
Our music ministers, Denise and Jackie, have been with St. Paul’s for over twenty years, and have been a source of stability and constancy through the years. With their resignations, we are sad to bid them farewell, and there are probably some nerves and concerns about what the future will hold.
Meanwhile, we are soon facing rulings in our lawsuit that will increase our anxiety in the months ahead. While I am hopeful that things will turn out in the church’s favor, there is obvious fear and uncertainty alongside our hope.
During these times of transition, change, and anxiety, I find myself turning often to a couple favorite Bible passages. Isaiah 43:1-3a, 5-7 tells us:
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
5 Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up’,
and to the south, ‘Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.’
In the midst of our uncertainty, God promises to be with us, just as God has always done. No matter what the future holds, we remain children of God, beloved siblings in Christ, a community gathered by the Holy Spirit.
The other passage I often recall is Psalm 121:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and for evermore.
God assures us that God will guide us and strengthen us, defend us and keep us, no matter what lies ahead. Our help comes from the Lord.
The truth is that the Holy Spirit continues to move here at St. Paul’s. Even through change and transition, uncertainty and anxiety, we have hope because the Holy Spirit will guide us, provide for us, and bring us into a new future that remains grounded in the love of God that we experience in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our music ministry will enter a new age, and we will grow and adapt to the changes. Things may not look the way they always have, but we will have the opportunity to learn and grow with new leadership, new ideas, and new energy.
Whatever the legal cases bring, we remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). We are a church, centered on Christ Jesus. Finances cannot change that, reputation cannot change that, the courts cannot change that. As with changes to our music ministry, these decisions may bring changes, but the Holy Spirit will guide us through, and will continue to gather us together as the body of Christ, as witnesses of God’s love throughout the world.
I invite you to pray for St. Paul’s in these months ahead. I hope that you will be flexible and gracious throughout the transitions. And I welcome your questions, hopes, and concerns, as we look toward the future that God has in store for us.
May the grace of God, the love of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit be with you always.
Rev. Jessica Hahn