Dear people of Bethlehem,
As I write this, we are in the middle of Vacation Bible School, learning about Joseph and his brothers in Egypt. Children are running all over the campus, full of joy and new songs and a great deal of love. It does the heart good. In the background, our nation continues to struggle through many desperately important issues and pain seems to be the primary outcome for us all. It feels discordant to me, even impossible, that both things can exist in the same moment. Yet, when I asked one of our 4 year olds today, what he learned at Vacation Bible School, he said, “I learned that God was with Joseph every, everywhere he was — even in jail.” How unfathomable, but true that God is indeed in it all; at the center of our deepest pain and turmoil, and centered in our deepest hope and joy.
I am personally overjoyed that we as a congregation will be marching in the Pride Parade together. I hope you will be able to join us. Pride is yet another example of God’s “everywhere”. Pride parades always exemplify the intersection of highest joy and honest sorrow. So much color and joy, yet hidden within it, the bittersweet honesty of what has been endured.
What wonderful permission we have been given by God, to not have to sequester ourselves in one single place; to not have to define ourselves, or our God, so narrowly. We can rather, expand our vision of where God will choose to be, until we become acutely aware that there is no place God’s love does not reside. I heard a theologian say, “Many people ask the question, where is God? The better question is, where isn’t God?” That truth gives us permission to venture far and wide. We can venture into the simple joys of life: a good cup of coffee, or a beautiful sunset. There God will find us. We can dare to step into the fray of this world: the sorrow of injustice, the pain we ourselves bear. There we will find God. And in both places, we will be blessed.
Dear people of God, I offer you this blessing:
Go now with God, be not tempted to stay in the safety of known places. Move from where you are to where God points. Hasten from where you are toward a God who beckons.
Go now with God, be not tempted to go only in your time; when it suits; when it is sure. Bestir yourself now, for now is God’s time.
Go now with God, elect not to go alone. Give your allegiance, your destination to no other. Choose to go with God.
Go in the faith that there is no valley so low, no wilderness so vast, no passage so crooked, no way so confused, that God is not already there. Waiting to be with you.
I count myself blessed to be with you on the journey,