O Lord, we wait for you,
our God who helps and protects us.
In your presence we discover joy.
We entrust ourselves to your care.
Pour your faithful love upon us
as we place our hope in you.
(Psalm 33:20-22, my paraphrase)
As we transition from 2016 to 2017, I am given to thinking about the past year and looking to the future. What were our best moments and greatest challenges? Where are we headed in 2017?
History will remember 2016 as the year of Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, but in our home we will also remember it as the Year of the Great Move. My husband and I spent most the year transitioning from the Twin Cities area to a less populated, more rural place in west-central Minnesota. We gradually sorted our belongings with an eye for what was really needed, prepared and sold our home. This process made us think about our dreams and goals for the next chapter of our lives.
In the midst of the long transition, I was looking for part-time work in some form of pastoral ministry. As it turned out, there was a small Christian community whose pastor had just left, and they needed someone to lead worship. Because of our move, I could not become their pastor, but I did lead worship a number of times–and the community ordained me as an ecumenical minister of Christ.
And so it is, I write to you now as your sister in Christ and one who has been commissioned to serve others as an ordained minister. This idea of “women priests” or women ministers is something I had wrestled with internally for many years, often doing my very best to resist and deny my own calling (!).
Now 2017 is just beginning after a year-long transition to a new place and a deepening calling to minister to God’s people. I have rented a new office in Alexandria (MN) and will be continuing the spiritual direction ministry there (and on Skype). I will also be continuing writing and painting in the studio portion of my office.
As for the rest, I cannot see the future, but I believe that God will use my ordination for a divine purpose. I love the area I’m now living in. For the next few months I will be listening and learning about the needs of people here.
The new year holds much promise, but also a lot of fear for many Americans who are feeling nervous about the transition of leadership and about the direction our country might take in the future. I’ve been trying to think how to approach this new situation (it feels new to me) and I don’t have a magic wand to wave over the situation.
The thought I have today is that no matter what happens in the world, God is still with us. We might ignore God or turn away from God’s wisdom, love, and mercy, but God is still present, witnessing our struggles, sharing in our pain (as Jesus did), encouraging us to make wise choices, and watching over us with loving care.
As we begin 2017, I choose to hope in God and to do what I can to make the world a better place. I do not expect that everything will be easy or fair or successful or even peaceful. Although there is much good, beauty, and love in the world, there is also selfishness, greed, cruelty, hate and any number of evils. We humans are simultaneously both saints and sinners (thank you, Martin Luther), myself included.
Because humans are fallible creatures, we place our hope in God.
The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope. –Romans 15:13
Until next time, Amen!