A Message from the Pastor

Pastor

Greg Kintzi

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NAVIGATING THE STORM

Finding Joy in the Midst of Upheaval

“The spiritual life is a journey into the fullness of joy.”
-John Mogobgab

 

           Are you feeling discouraged, isolated, anxious, and upset about the current state of the world? You wouldn’t be alone. We live in unprecedented times – not only are we dealing with a global pandemic, natural disasters like fires, hurricanes, and record breaking temperatures around the globe; but as a country we are also dealing with a toxic political climate, unrest in our nation’s cities, and  the worst downturn in our economy since the Great Depression. On top of that we have lost a whole group of people who played a vital role in the ministry and mission of our congregation over the past six months – Margaret Madsen, Margaret Meyers, Sy Ross, Anna Nickerson, Helen Hill, and Nancy Boyd. It’s a lot to process and make sense of, and we have to do it without gathering together for worship and by practicing social distancing. It’s no wonder folks are having a tough time navigating the choppy waters we find ourselves in.

            Some of you may be familiar with the two works of art by John August Swanson that hang in our kitchenette where we used to gather for snacks and refreshments following worship. Because of our support and patronage of his work, John August Swanson’s studio often sends us postcards of works of art he has recently completed. This last week I received a postcard of a new print John has created titled “The Storm.” It couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, for when I looked at it, the print filled my heart with joy.

            In John’s print, THE STORM, a group of travelers is caught in a raging ocean. Wind blowing back their hair, as rain pours down from violent, swirling clouds into churning, dark blue and green waters. A small child points ahead to clearer waters. Made up of all different ages, genders, and ethnicities, the group support each other as together they struggle and row to safety through the perilous storm of life. What a great metaphor for this present moment the church currently finds itself in. Things look so uncertain and unsure – but this much we do know – the only way forward is by working together as a unified body to discover the beautiful & redemptive future that God has promised.

            When reading the back of the postcard, I discovered the inspiration of John’s newest work. It was a statement Pope Francis made in a book he

wrote this past year, Urbi Et Orbi: “We were caught off guard by an unexpected turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.

On this boat…are all of us…we cannot go on thinking of ourselves but only together can we do this.”

            John’s newest work “The Storm” has been an inspiration to me, and I hope it is and inspiration to you too. Now, more than ever, we need each other in this unparalleled moment, and I trust that you are holding me in your prayers as I am holding you in mine. It is impossible to know what the future will bring, but I hope to travel there with all of you and find safe harbor at the horizon.

            In her book Holy Chaos, which I made reference to in my newsletter article last month, Amanda Henderson talks about the importance of cultivating joy in times of turbulence and difficulty. In chapter eight of her book she states: “I have found that even a little moment of joy can provide the needed fuel to push through times of struggle and hopelessness. In the long haul work of building relationships across religious differences and fighting for political rights and equality, a posture of joy can help dismantle assumptions, for the inevitable struggles of living.”

            At the end of the chapter, Amanda goes on to share these powerful words about joy: “Joy is a posture, a practice, a way of being that can be cultivated. It is also always fleeting, making the work of cultivating joy a lifelong pursuit. I once asked a mentor how I could possibly find balance as a mom attending seminary. She wisely exclaimed- ‘Amanda, You will never find balance. You will always navigate it, no matter what you have going on, but you will never find it.’ The same is true of cultivating joy. Deep joy is not naïve or based on whim, but comes from the internal well within each of us. By intentionally developing joy in our internal state of being, as well as in our communities, we build endurance for the long-haul work of loving and working for justice in our convoluted worlds of faith and politics.”

            Amanda then goes on to list 9 practices for developing joy in our lives, of which I will share my favorite three.

1.)       Take time to practice Gratitude. It seems this has become a cliché, but it works. Often our critical side wins in the battle for brain space. Practicing gratitude intentionally tells the critical side to step back while we create space for appreciation. This not only changes, our brain patterns but can shift our relationships and interactions with others.

2.)      Take time to do something that brings joy to you personally. Watch a movie that makes you laugh, or listen to a song that fills your heart to overflowing. Read a poem that inspires you, or spend time in an art museum where you can look at a painting or sculpture that makes your heart race, and your joy meter rise exponentially. Though the path to joy is different for each of us, there is an activity out there that will help you connect to your inner source of abundant joy.

3.)       Step into Nature. Getting outside – breathing fresh air, taking time to observe trees and birds and soil-reminds us how big the world is and puts all of life into perspective.

            As the medieval monk Fra Giovanni once wrote:

“There is nothing I can give you which you have not
But there is much that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today –

      Take heaven.

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.

      Take peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within reach, is joy.

      Take joy.

            That is my prayer for each and every person living in these chaotic and turbulent times – that they not be overwhelmed by the never-ending barrage of crazy things happening, but that instead the be filled with the joy that only God can give when life seems overwhelming and impossible.

Your Fellow Pilgrim on the Journey,
Pastor Greg Kintzi

 
 
  September 2020  
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SEP

23

WED
Confirmation Class - Wednesday Evenings
7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
confirmation class will meet on Wednesday evenings in the east room. Social Distance meeting.
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26

SAT
Men's Breakfast & Bible Study
7:30 AM
GROUP MEETS THE 4TH SATURDAY OF EACH MONTH UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. SOCIAL DISTANCING MEETING IN FELLOWSHIP HALL.
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