Sunday night, Monday rain. Lots of it. Endless. Grey wrapped, tried to clear, not very cold, grey wins rain. Nightcrawlers and earthworms bring musty-soil, spring-like scents as they surface for who knows what reasons. Some adventure onto the blacktop, misadventure around, wiggle-squiggle-squirm-squishyish-“yuk papa” through the torrents and sprinkles. If the sun pops and a bit of “Indian Summer” occurs, the mowers will return for more rounds and the monotone monotony of spewed clippings, “I thought I was done for the year” complaints, and “gotta love a zero steer!” The porch now holds my swing and invited with a dry-spot enticement to inhale a back and forth fall, watch squirrel-scamper, cheeks stuffed, hide and likely never find merriment of winter prep in their lawned, tree-lined, bush protected world. More than a little weary of unboxing life in a new home, I enjoyed the respite as the musk accompanied damp brought book thinks.
Rooted in God’s Love, the 125th anniversary text that traced our church history, was one of the first cardboard protected tomes to reappear. It joined my rocker motion idle on the seat next to mine. Karen Halt’s wonderful artwork, the open hand, a clump of dirt, and a sprouting plant, still presented the metaphor of faith. The “no walls” church that concluded the writing also maintained its significance in picturing God’s true church – “no walls, the true church is people in community with each other and where the people are more visible than the building. Our church building is a great blessing, the people it serves an even greater blessing” (Halt).
Each sway brought musings of our search for a new pastor, for what many feel brings a new beginning, fresh life, more hope, and growth. I picked up the book and browsed the research done and summarized by Mary Kirchoff, Lorry Taylor, and Kathleen Usarek, and the words I typed for them in 2011 and 2012. And the text touched me once again as the process of writing it had so richly done years ago. “No, we really are not facing a new beginning, a new start. We are, as we should, taking about 20 more months to organize our move forward in a young century incredibly filled with new means of outreach and new ways of expressing faith in Jesus Christ and the love of God. New methods to buttress what we have, not to start again.” Our “wheel” does not need reinventing. In 131+ years, our congregation has changed, the building has changed, the yard has changed, the pastoral shepherding has changed, but NOT the foundation on which we built. God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have never left. As I noted in the “Afterword”, the three ladies and myself “…wandered, sometimes adrift, in the strewn notes and collected information about VELC [and] we all come to one conclusion. Our congregation…was truly built on the One Foundation that withstands time and the tempests of change.”
I felt a spit or two of rain insisting I stop this ponder. So comforting to have thought of communion, the words of the sacrament as I learned them over 60 years ago. The words of the shared peace the same, with added movement to share it as God’s people should. The Creed. Not a new beginning at all. Same old, same old foundation that was and is as it should be. The Bible, from which I learned of faith, has not been rewritten to begin anew. The careful revisions have brought better understanding, but not changed the Old and New Testament messages. Advent and the birth of Jesus are not “Xmas” and Holy Week does not end with eggs and candy. In the many years of gathering in God’s name, a congregation creates, according to John Stalbaum, not a history, but a scrapbook. “it’s people…who made a difference because they loved God and made His presence felt in this small part of His world.” With a last glance at the splatting puddles, I moved inside. Good to smell the earth sometimes, to inhale the solidity of God’s work in His creation.
submitted by Dave Smith