From the Pastor

Pastor Bob Albing

Have you heard the word “pivot” enough in the last 12 months? We hear so often about how things have changed in the past year, how much we have had to change, and the ways in which our gatherings, worship, churches, school and businesses have changed. “We’ve all had to pivot” is now a common way to describe the experience of all these changes.

This word, pivot, with its two quick syllables, can be used as a noun, adjective or verb. I’ve mostly heard it used as a verb: pivoted; pivoting; pivots. We all know what is meant when we hear this word, but this is what Merriam-Webster says:

Definition of pivot:

1: noun - a shaft or pin on which something turns; a person or thing that is central or important to someone or something else

2: verb - to turn on or around a central point; pivot on/around something; the action of turning around a point; pivoting

I like some synonyms for pivot as a verb because they relay the dizzying feeling of my experience this past year: -revolve, roll, rotate, spin, swirl, swivel, turn, twirl, twist, wheel, whirl. Just reading these words one right after the other makes me feel like taking some Dramamine! Yet, this experience of continually pivoting has given us practice at what we try to do as Christians – keep our focus on Jesus! Keeping him as our pivot (to use it as a noun) helps stop the dizziness and bring steadiness and clear vision.

These next 9 months may bring about just as many changes as the last 12. But we have a pivot, a “person that is central” to all that we do and are. It is around the risen Christ we pivot, and he saves us, keeps us, restores us.

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!

God’s Resurrection Peace to you,

Pr. Bob

(with thanks to Mary Morrow, our Synod Director

for Evangelical Mission, for this article)

Is March a long month for you? It is for me. It has 31 days of course, but March also always seems to include many dark and dreary days as we transition from winter into spring. If it snows, the snow is usually wet and heavy. If the sun shines, it usually is not for long. I hope March this year is different.

Many things over the last several months sort of dragged on and on. Maybe it was just because we were all so isolated and had nothing else to focus on, but a lot of what was on the news seemed repetitive. We seemed to be talking about the same things, day after day. I hope March this year is different.

So, are things finally going to change? Will the vaccines come in time to save our loved ones? Will enough people get vaccinated so that we can start to meet again, in buildings? We wonder and we wait. If this pandemic has not given you a lot of practice at patience, then you have not been paying attention!

We have learned patience, but we have also learned to adapt, to pivot, to make changes when needed. We have learned to be flexible and be willing to change plans when circumstances dictate. Those of us who are “control freaks” and those who are not have all had lessons in letting go. Sort of like 12 months of Lent.

So what?

Well, for one thing, I think that makes us more useful to God.

When our preferences are our top priority, when we think that our to-do list should be God’s as well, then we make the Holy Spirit’s job harder. When we are flexible and can adapt to changing circumstances, then God can put people in our path who need us and can put people in our path whom we need.

Maybe it has been your experience that God works on schedule in very predictable ways at predictable times. But for me, it seems that the Trinity works on their own schedule and I am continually surprised, even startled by grace and joy.

{The book of Philemon is a very short Biblical epistle about the chance to adapt to a new circumstance.}

My prayer for you and me is that the Holy Spirit will use us in new ways now that we have been kneaded and worked by the changes of the last several months. My prayer is that we will be useful for the Kingdom because of, not just despite, the many changes we have lived through. Maybe this March…

Pr. Bob

Do remember Lent last year?

Lent 2020 was when the pandemic hit. I remember putting stuff away after a mid-week Lenten service in March and hearing Jeff say, “Well, that may be the last time we meet together for a while.” I was incredulous. But as it turned out. We did not gather again until June.

This year, Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb 17. We will have Drive-thru Imposition of Ashes. I will be out in the parking lot ready to put ashes on your forehead. (check the web site and our Facebook page for details). Plus, you will receive a Lenten gift from Larry Almeida – a CD with 2 songs and 2 readings.

Then during the Wednesdays in Lent, there will be noon and six pm worship service focusing on stories from the Gospel of John and your own stories. They will be 30 minutes long. At 7 on our Facebook page, we will post a discussion between Pr. Matt, Pr. Dan and me about Adam and Eve from Genesis 2-5, called, “Getting to Know the First Family”. Get it?

During 2020 I read and heard a lot about how to “pivot” and how to be “nimble” and be “adaptive”. These buzz words are basically about change, and not getting stuck in a rut. With all the disruptions of last year, we have all had to be flexible. Will Lent go as planned? I hope so. But only God knows for certain.

Do you have plans for 2021? I don’t think it hurts to plan or to dream, as long as we don’t grasp too tightly to our plans and dreams. Trips, seeing friends and relatives, travel, and gatherings, can be fun to look forward to. They might happen, they might not. If 2020 taught us anything, it taught us to be light on our feet and be willing to change plans. And the other thing we learned from 2020 is to look for silver linings. There often is a blessing hidden inside the pain, the disruption, the difficulty, the sudden change, the grief. God has not given up on trying to bless you just because He must work harder to help you see it. God is not a quitter; God is never frustrated. God knows how to pivot and how to be nimble. So, who knows what blessing is just around the corner?

God’s peace to you as you wait, as you plan, as you act, as you look for the next way that the Holy Spirit will bring blessings to you, to us.

Pr. Bob