September is a month of transitions. Children return to school. Summer gradually gives way to autumn. The temperatures begin to entertain morning frost. Leaves try on their seasonal attire. Folks break out their cool weather clothing.
Indeed, September is a month of transitions. But then, so much of life seems to be about transitions. Change happens; sometimes out of choice, sometimes by necessity.
And while, so often, we tend to resist change, there is something within us, I think, that resonates with the changing seasons. As a species, we human beings seem to have an inherent instinct to be in continual motion.
From the moment we are taken out of the crib and placed on a baby blanket on the living room floor, some deep seated ambulatory dream stirs within the human breast urging us to mobilize: first struggling to roll over on our stomach; then pushing ourselves up with our hands and getting our knees under us to crawl; finally using the coffee table to pull ourselves up on wobbly legs to take those first unsteady steps.
We begin life by exploring the confines of our infancy. From that point on, the wide world beckons.
Of course, the longing for forward motion is not only a physical drive, although it is powerfully that. We also have an irresistible yearning as spiritual beings to broaden our `metaphysical’ horizons, push beyond the boundaries of our understandings, expand the limits of consciousness. As the great French philosopher and devote Jesuit Priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin observed, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
In other words, even after the resources necessary to keep body and soul together are located, there yet remains a more transcendent impetus to move. A spiritual instinct that pushes us on.
Pierre de Chardin went on to say, “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
Chardin’s belief, one which I share, was that at the end of all our moving – whether exploring what lies around the next bend in the road or peering into the heart of the most distant galaxy – we will discover that what we were seeking all along was the One who brings all things together at last in love; the very One who is both the genesis and the destination of all life’s journeying. And the one thing which seems to make all of life’s transitions most bearable – both those we celebrate as well as those we struggle through – is the truth that we do not travel alone. There is God. And there are other sojourners along the way to share the experience.
For the past two years you, as a congregation, have been through a time of challenging transition as you searched for your next pastor. And I marvel at the strength of community with which you have navigated that journey. You responded to the difficulties along the way by reaffirming the faith you share, and you rejoiced in the gifts you’ve been given to help each other through it all.
For the past several months, Diane and I have been experiencing our own challenging transition as we sought to discern God’s call forward in our lives. Yet, what began as separate journeys have now, I believe, been brought together (at last) in the Spirit of God’s love.
My first month as the `next pastor’ of 1st Presbyterian Church in Cazenovia has come and gone. And what a wonderful experience it has been. You have opened your homes and your hearts to both Diane and me. Indeed, people in the church have been so genuinely warm and welcoming, and gracious and generous, that Diane and I feel we have truly found a place where body and soul and spirit can come together in a new way. We feel a sense of confirmation for having taken this next step in our own faith journey, and we celebrate with you a renewed sense of gratitude for God’s providence through all of life’s transitions. We are committed, henceforth, to join in stride with the good people of 1st Pres Caz to seek where God would have us go next as the church.
May God so bless us as we seek to discern that will together.
In the Love of Jesus Christ,