***This was written as a kind of farewell to the national magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Canada as it prepares to end it’s run after 140 years in publication. While I know that not all of you read it or are members of the PCC I thought I would cross post it as it has applications for other endings and beginnings.***
Cinnamon came in the mail for me today. So did a chapstick. It’s a very particular type of cinnamon, Ceylon. The chapstick isn’t so specific but I needed a new one and the price was right. I went with the sweet mint variety after perusing a selection of chapsticks from the comfort of my couch. Shopping for our family is so very different than it was for my mother when she was my age raising a family. We can order our nuts in bulk online. I no longer have to go to that specific health food store to get cinnamon as Amazon.ca has it. I do try to support local business so I will go that health food store if I have time but lately it’s been hard to squeeze in outings for shopping when there are so many fun things to do like apple picking, bowling and building Lego. Times have changed from the days when you used to have to go places to get things done. Now you can choose to go. That choice really demonstrates how much life has evolved, changed and moved alongside our advances in technology.
While times are changing and moving at a faster rater than ever before I have always found comfort in the tradition mediums of books, magazines and newspapers. I love to feel the page, smell the ink and really sink into a moment of escape. Stories and their telling is so important to me. It is our stories that link us, that shape us and make us as communities. Stories define us and inspire us. They need to pour out from us into the community so that others might know, might hear that there are others with stories, others with experience, others who have lived and loved, lost and suffered.
Stories matter. The stories of the Record have mattered. They will continue to matter even after the magazine is gone as the stories we have read will stay with us. The stories that have challenged, inspired, encouraged and prompted are part of our fabric, woven into who we are and who we will become. Yet as much as it is a part of us, it is time to say goodbye to this way of storytelling. It’s not an easy goodbye. We give thanks as we look back for the years of connection, meditation and challenge it has provided. This old friend that has for years unified and divided (depending on the month and it’s features) will be missed.
I’ve spent the better part of this week building a Hobbit house with my son out of Lego. It’s quite intricate and I am mostly the extra eyes when X. can’t figure out where a piece goes. The Hobbit is a story which at its heart speaks to an individual’s faith in himself and his discovery that what he thought he couldn’t do, he in fact could. We as a community are a bit like Bilbo, headed on an unexpected journey into a future we weren’t expecting. None of us wanted this. We weren’t expecting it quite so soon I imagine. We may feel unsettled, homesick even when we think of what is in the past, but it isn’t the past any longer. The world in which we live is filled with new things, new ministries and new opportunities. Our future has the potential to be one of grand adventure, challenge and opportunity if we allow ourselves to become the people we are created to be.
This itself is hard. Becoming the people we are created to be means letting go of who we are. In many ways this is the beginning of our quest. The beginning of the journey that God has called us to. It may not be easy. There will be times when we want to be selfish and return home to what we know but we are being called into new things, unexpected things and it is time for us to answer that call or accept that we have chosen to go another way. We must move out of our comfort and into the world sharing our stories. We must begin sharing our stories and telling others how Jesus is different, how grace and love are available. We must be present in this world in a way we never have been.
Our stories must be told. Our lives are living reflections of the grace and love that is offered regardless of who we are and what we have done. All of us, each one of us is an important piece in the story that is the people of God and we need to continue sharing the Good News with people, we need to continue to find ways to share our stories of love and hope, pain and suffering, grace and community as in this overly connected world we seem more disconnected than ever.
A new thing is coming for us if we are willing to see that newness, new ways of being are as real and as authentic as what has gone before. We may find ourselves confused and perplexed at first, longing for what we know but it is time for a new thing. It is time for us to move with God, actively looking for new ways to connect and share lest we find ourselves left in the past, isolated and alone. If we don’t actively engage in this world we will find ourselves inactive, ineffective in this time and place.
Think about the retail market I was talking about earlier. When I was younger my Mom could go to Eatons’s and get most everything from housewares to clothing for us all. She would go to Zehrs and get our food. We had one stop shopping that needed to be accessed with a stop. Now things are different, Eatons is closed and Sears moved in and Sears, that multinational corporation which used to thrive in the marketplace is now struggling due to it’s failures to adapt and update it’s accessibility.
We’re being called out, out of what we know and into something new. We are being called out and we have an opportunity to move ahead or stay behind. We can choose to adapt and grow or we can stay stagnant and drift. As we say goodbye to the Record, let us give thanks for what it has done and has given us but let us not get stuck in the sadness that comes at the end of things. Instead let us feel the sadness and then move ahead with great hope in the new opportunities that lie ahead and the new vision God has for us now. God is always doing something new, moving somewhere in this world and it is our responsibility to move with him, following and ministering as he would have us in this moment.
Goodbye old friend. I will miss the conversations as I knew them. I will miss the conversations but I look forward with anticipation to what God has in store if we allow ourselves to leave, if we allow ourselves move out of our Hobbit Holes and into a world of grand adventure and new mission. Will you come along on an unexpected journey?
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)