Strange beginnings

Pastoral Messages | August 19, 2020

It’s “back to school” season once again, which usually means lots of school supply shopping and kids planning out their first day outfits. Teachers decorate their rooms while college students learn their way around a new campus.

But, like most things, this year is different. Back to school season is filled with more anxiety or concern. Parents are grappling with decisions about online or in-person schooling and teachers have probably gone through countless lesson plans as decisions keep shifting.

My heart has ached for parents, teachers, and kids alike as all of them face strange new realities this fall. Getting to know new people is a bit more challenging while also wearing a mask. And having to navigate learning and connections via technology or Zoom calls isn’t a walk in the park either.

This particular beginning of the new school year is a strange one, for sure. For that matter, starting anything new in the middle of a pandemic is a bit overwhelming. Shifting jobs, beginning retirement, jumping into a new sports team, moving to a different neighborhood, meeting new people… all of it is much more challenging right now.

I was feeling a bit like it’s a strange time for any of us to experience a new beginning, when a colleague of mine reminded me of a curious thought: When have God’s people ever had a perfect time for a new beginning?

If you take a quick scan of scripture, it becomes pretty clear. God has often called people to new beginnings in the midst of the strangest of times.

I have a feeling Sarah probably had a few choice words for Abraham when she learned that they were picking up and leaving everyone & everything they knew, just because some odd voice had told them to.

I can only imagine that Noah wasn’t exactly sitting around looking for a new hobby when God showed up and instructed him to build a gigantic floating zoo. Or the prophet Jonah was so frustrated by God’s timing of asking him to go speak to the people of Nineveh, that he ended up in the belly of a fish instead. Talk about strange.

The gospels tell us that Jesus just appeared one day to the disciples, asked them to drop everything they were doing, and follow him. Can you picture what an odd and abrupt career change that was? I could also imagine that Mary Magdalene thought the middle of the Passover celebration was a pretty terrible time to have to bury your dearest friend. But grief never comes at a convenient moment.

The point is this: strange, difficult, challenging beginnings are nothing new to the people of God. And we now follow in the footsteps of some pretty incredible people before us. Yes, the discomfort and uneasiness are a bit overwhelming at times. But hopefully we can live with some comfort that great things often start with quite strange beginnings.

-Katy Warren, associate pastor

8 Comments on “Strange beginnings”

  • Audrey Keeney

    August 20, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you, Pastor Katy. Thank you for your encouraging message. I needed it. Helps me put all these stress contributors in perspective.

  • Jeanne Withycombe

    August 20, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    I liked this, Katy. Thank you. Ray is very frightened of going back to school this year despite wanting to see “his kids again.”

  • Sheila Mesick

    August 20, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    Valid points throughout our major Bible stories we learned early as children. So very right on Katy, thank you for a wake up call that speaks to the time we live in.

  • Georgeanns Kreiter

    August 20, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    Guess I need to take this waiting thing to heart after spending over an hour this morning and now 1 1/2 hours at Verizon to have someone help with something that is their problem. A PRAYER and a deep breath!

  • Marcia Willi

    August 20, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Change for most of us is fraught w/ anxiety. But, as you say Pastor Katy God is there to help us along the path.

  • Connie King

    August 20, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable in order to learn. My students used to complain when I changed the seating chart with every unit because they had gotten “comfortable” where they were. But I told them that they’d learn more if they were uncomfortable. Nice message!

  • Suzy Schindler

    August 20, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Thoughtful sentiment, Katy.

  • Fred Quam

    August 20, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Very good story . Liked it very much

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