Canoeing the Mountains
Posted on Jan 04, 2022 by Jon Brudvig
Dear Ministry Partners,
There are moments when the pace of change and the disruption of what is familiar can be deeply upsetting. So much so, that the resulting discomfort and the loss of what once was may give rise to feelings of anger, grief, and bitter disappointment. Change and disruption may also fuel unfulfilled longings for an idealized return “to the way things used to be.”
The diversity of emotions conjured up by the change process can, if we are not careful, make it hard for us to see and experience God’s presence in new and unfamiliar spaces, especially spaces that do not connect with our own lived experiences. It is also important to acknowledge that people’s responses to change will vary. Some will eagerly embrace the change process. Others, leery of the uncertainty of what change might bring, will want to slow the process down and consider multiple options. And, yes, there will be some for whom the process is simply too upsetting. All these responses are valid and are reflected in the lived experience of our community.
The challenges that lie ahead of us are daunting, yes. But they are NOT insurmountable. Thriving during times of change and disruption will challenge us to learn how to adapt, to collectively identify and remain committed to Salem’s core values, to learn as we go, and to let go of what detracts us from the mission that God is entrusting to our care. Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains, writes: “We have left the map, we are in unchartered territory, and it is different than we expected.” (p. 28)
During the time after Epiphany, Christians cling to the promise that the light of Christ breaks into our lives and our ministries in surprising and unexpected ways. As we move forward into the future together, may we extend grace to one another as we prayerfully engage in conversations regarding how God is calling us to be the church together. Though frightening, the change process affords each of us opportunities for discovery, learning, and spiritual growth. This is a divine moment, writes Bolsinger, “an opportunity to follow and serve the God who is King of the entire world.” (p. 35)
As the year unfolds, I ask you to pray for the people of Salem. Pray for our shared ministries and our valued ministry partners. And pray that God will accompany us and enlighten us as we faithfully live out the mission God is calling us into.
The mission of Christ will not fail.