Pandemic Ponderings of the Transitional Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley

July 13, 2020

Dear friends,

How are you doing on the coronacoaster? This humorous three-minute clip suggests where many of us are

But seriously, how are you doing on the coronacoaster? We’re 120 days in and God only knows how many more left. We’re halfway through what has possibly been the strangest year of our lives. In a recent post, daily blogger, Seth Godin, posed this pithy thought.

When you talk about your last job, your last vacation, the things that happened when you were 12…
What do you lead with?
Do you lead with, “I broke my ankle that summer and rarely got out” or is it, “I stuck with my reading regimen and read all of Shakespeare.”
Because both are true.
The top story is the one that informs our narrative, and our narrative changes our future.

 What is the top story you are telling of this year personally and as a congregation?

Certainly there is the story of the global pandemic. And perhaps you have your own defining stories of illness or the death of loved ones. And there’s the story of how that pandemic exposed the gravely unjust disproportionate brunt poor people and black and brown are bearing. There’s the tragic story of George Floyd’s hideous murder. And there’s the story of a resurgence of work for racial justice as statues are toppled and a vivid yellow declaration that Black Lives Matter adorns streets all over the nation. And there’s also the story of how 2020 saw social and racial justice book titles topping the New York Times for weeks in a row. For congregations there is the story of uncertainty, anxiety, sadness. But there is also the story of innovation, creativity, and finding new ways to be connected and be in mission.

The top story is the one that informs our narrative, and our narrative changes our future. What is the story you are telling of 2020?  Acts 4 begins:

While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.

As former colleague Mark Ramsey put it, “The religious authorities of the time – those who thought they were in control of the narrative – arrested Peter and John and ordered them to be silent, but they just kept proclaiming the truth of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at every opportunity.  The officials pressed them more and still they talked only about the crucified and risen Christ.”  Finally, the account concludes:

…Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; 20 for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Peter and John knew the narrative and stuck to script.  They spoke of what they had seen and heard in Jesus.  And the world changed.

What stories are you telling personally? What stories is your congregation telling about being faithful in this time? What is the core story that is even now changing your world and THE world?

I’m happy to report that several of the pastors in the presbytery are all taking vacations this week – a move I applaud and encourage!!  And join me for our regular Thursday afternoon gathering, Thursday at 4:00pm.

As ever in prayer,

Sue Westfall

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