By Clare Andreasson
Last year at this time our oldest child was in the second semester of his senior year of high school. As a family we were up to our necks in one of the major transitions of our life together. On an ordinary Saturday afternoon I found myself standing in the doorway of Peter’s room, wringing my hands and worrying aloud. “Peter, have you done this …? What are you planning to do about that …? And what if …?”
Worry is one of my default settings. My son knows this better than I do. He looked up from his computer and smiled at me.
“Mom!” he said. “The angel of the Lord wants to say to you: ‘Fear not.’”
My son was teasing me, of course. He was also telling the truth. To paraphrase Saint Paul: he was telling me the truth I needed to hear and he was inviting me to grow.
“Listen to your life,” says Frederick Buechner.
Listen to what is happening right here right now on any ordinary afternoon. God is here. Listen to where you have been and to where you are going. God is there. And listen to each other. The angel of the Lord might be speaking the very word our hearts need to hear in this moment through the twinkle in a loved one’s eye – or through the tears on a loved one’s face.
This year I am part of another significant transition, the one in which we are all involved at Grace. There is grief and loss and harm to come to terms with. There is goodness to celebrate. And we are waiting for a new interim pastor to come to us.
At the vestry retreat Canon Spaid explained that the position of interim can be a difficult one but also very fruitful with someone skilled. He told us that some pastors have a vocation to serve as interims, leading a congregation through its own story, looking at its past, pondering where it finds itself now, and preparing it to receive what is to come. A good interim, he said, facilitates transformation from pseudo-community to authentic community.
As a parishioner newly appointed to the vestry, this feels so hopeful. Authentic community is not easy but it is life-giving, and I believe that it is worth working for. An interim pastor who can join us and help us in the transformative work of listening to each other and listening together to our life as a church is worth waiting for.
I believe that God is here in this time of transition. I believe that we are being invited to grow.
Our son’s room is mostly empty now. When I pass the open doorway on ordinary afternoons, I remember the twinkle in his eye, and I hear the echo of his words:
“Mom! The angel of the Lord wants to say to you: ‘Fear not!’”