Scripture: Luke 14:33 (NRSV)
So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
I knew there'd be two or three hymns. I knew that "In the Bulb" would be one of them about every 5 weeks or so, despite my best efforts to keep the hymns fresh - it's just such a good and singable hymn. I knew the pause of silence just longer than comfortable that would arrive right before people started sharing the aches and pains on their hearts during the prayers of the people. I knew that rush of nervousness that would come a couple hours before worship, and how I came to depend on that energy, funneling it into last minute sermon reworking and for writing that morning's Words of Welcome. I knew worship's rhythms and mine in it. I had known that rhythm for years; the bending down of the pulpit microphone, a sip of water here and there. The breath before the first word. Faces looking at me or away; tearing, smiling, neutral, confused, befuddled, daydreaming, there but not there. I knew the smell of pew cushions and residual easter lilies. I could have stayed. I left.
"The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potters hand and he reworked it into another feel." (Jeremiah 18:4)
You know things. You have routines so familiar your body can move through them without needing to consult your mind. You can do these things with your eyes closed. It is easy in these places you know so well. You could stay. It is excepted that you will. Sometimes, though, faith asks us to leave.
Sometimes faith is about leaving, letting go our familiar habitual possessions and choosing to let ourselves be reworked, remade by a compassionate relationship with the unknown.
Great, living God, never fully known, encourage us in choosing the little and big unknowns.
Lindsey Peterson is a General Synod delegate and is the Designated Term Pastor at the South Congregational Church in Springfield, MA.