Surrounded by orange construction signs for most of my Minnesota-raised life, I’ve wondered how those who doing construction determine when and to where we are being sent while workers in orange or yellow hats and vests jackhammer and pave a new path, a new direction. Sometimes the logic of detours is, I’m convinced, a mystery known only to God and, perhaps, a few others to whom God reveals such things. Sitting for hours on end in traffic backed up for miles upon miles this summer, I’ve wondered aloud, alone in the car, why those working diligently on the roads couldn’t work faster. Why can’t the new road, the new path be here, already? I’m sure I’m not alone in this wondering.
I’m sure there are even some who have wondered this about our congregation. I imagine this lament on lips and hearts: Why can’t God work quicker, faster, harder to fix what is broken and get us back on the road where we’re supposed to be? It feels like we’re just sitting still – and, in fact, it’s felt like that for far longer than we care to admit.
It’s a mystery, in which God is at work bringing us out of the dark night of death into the light of resurrection. It’s a mystery how God leads and guides us from one to the other. The detours we are called to take do not always make sense to us. God is using these detours to grow in us resilience, courage, and capacity for what is to come. It’s a mystery how God takes us from our hardened and broken hearts and leads us down a whole new way of thinking, of being, of living and loving. It’s a mystery how God grows healing among us.
When grace is involved, when faith leads us down unfamiliar paths because God is showing us a new path, a new road, a new way, it’s all a mystery. Mysteries don’t unfold in a timely, or even sometimes a tidy way. Sometimes, to get to where God is leading us, we need to let go of our expectations and wonder, instead, what God might be doing in our midst. You know God leads when what is unfolding is not at all in your plans, your hopes, your dreams.
While the mysterious work of grace that God is doing in and through us, what do we do while we wait, watch, and pray for God’s work to continue to unfold? We do what people do when they are sitting in traffic that’s backed up for miles and miles: we listen to the music that plays in our lives. You won’t find this music on the radio; it’s music of grace and forgiveness and healing and hope and joy that flows on, endlessly, whether we are aware of it or not. It is music that paints a picture of the ways God walks alongside us, no matter where we happen to be, no matter for what we are waiting. This music announces that we are not alone; God is with us. And, with Paul in 1 Corinthians, if you let the music wash over you, you’ll know that Jesus is a gracious and tenacious trumpet player; he will not leave you hanging. You are in his hands.
I’m so very grateful to have been graced to travel in this season of interim with you. I celebrate the ways God’s mysterious work has unfolded among us, and, with you, I look forward to seeing how it continues to unfold in this congregation. Though there’s always more that I wish we could’ve experienced together, I trust that through our time, God accomplished what was needed to lead you further down the path, the road on which God calls you as a congregation. May the love of Christ continue to play in your ears, eyes, hearts and lives as you follow where God is guiding you. Trust this: Christ is present with you in whatever comes next for you. You are always and everywhere held in gracious hands.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Pastor Paul Lutter, Interim Senior Pastor