2023 has gotten off to the fast start! It feels like we’ve barely caught our breath from the Christmas holidays and now it’s already February! It also feels a bit like that movie Groundhog Day in which the cynical and self-centered TV reporter Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) keeps waking up to and reliving the same day, February 2, until he learns some important lessons about life and love.
Why do I say that? Well, for one thing, it still feels like we’re coming out of the pandemic and trying to figure out what our “new normal” is. Many of us felt that way at this time last year and had high hopes that 2022 would be the year when we finally got back to our pre-pandemic lives and activities. We soon realized, however, that Covid would not be that easily left behind, nor would some of the larger issues and questions that the pandemic exposed. So here we are again at the beginning of 2023, faced with important questions about who we are as a church and what God is calling us to be and do in this new world in which we live.
Ten years ago, our church spent the season of Lent and Easter with the book Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People edited by Dorothy Bass. Each chapter focuses on a spiritual practice that will help us deepen our relationship with God and live our faith more authentically in the world. Discernment is the name of spiritual practice that seems particularly relevant to where we are as a church and how we can move forward into this new future. As Frank Rogers writes in the chapter on discernment: “Christians believe that we are not alone… God is present, hoping and urging, in the midst of all the situations of life.
As Christians, we believe that God is passionately involved in human affairs and intimately invested in all of our questioning. Moreover, we believe that God’s involvement in our lives has purpose and direction. God is seeking to bring healing and wholeness and reconciliation, transforming this broken world into the New Creation where there will be no more sadness or injustice or pain. Our decisions and our search for guidance take place in the active presence of a God who intimately cares about our life situations and who invites us to participate in the divine activities of healing and transformation. Discernment is the intentional practice by which a community or an individual seeks, recognizes, and intentionally takes part in the activity of God in concrete situations.”
We are definitely in a time of discernment here at FPCY. As we come out of the pandemic and complete the capital campaign, how has the world around us changed and how is God calling us to work for healing and transformation in this time and place? Do the hopes and plans we had pre-pandemic still make sense in this new reality or do we need to listen for God’s voice calling us to make some course corrections and move in new directions? Who are we now as a congregation, and how can we faithfully participate in God’s activity and work with the people and resources God has given us?
We hope you will join us in prayer and active engagement as we discern the way forward in 2023. The Session spent its retreat on just these questions and is looking forward to sharing more with you at the Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 5. In the meantime, we will trust that the Light revealed to us during this Epiphany season will continue to guide us as we seek to follow God’s will and way in this new year.
Faithfully yours, Tami & Chip