Let me thank the Annual Gathering Planning Team headed by Beth Gedert for their incredible work to make a “virtual” gathering a reality; the hospitality of First Community Church (UCC & DOC) in Columbus and our own staff: Adam, Nikki, Jill and David Long-Higgins for extraordinary efforts to do a new thing on our behalf. An evaluation piece will be coming shortly and given a presumption that some form of “virtual” will be part of next year’s September gathering your comments are most appreciated.
On another note, I went back to look at what I wrote last October when I assumed the duties of Moderator. I look at many of the things written and, while I will not rehash them much has been accomplished since a year ago. Please take time to read David Long Higgins annual gathering report and celebrate how far we have journeyed together.
Finally, I share a personal encouragement. This last week on Tuesday I met with my Excellence in Ministry group. One of the members, a chaplain, reminded each of us of the reality of Covid and that while therapeutic methodologies of treatment have improved, we dare not fail in taking it seriously as he recounted the passing of an individual who had been vibrant just a few days earlier. He also reminded us that others are in the hospital needing critical care and because of restrictions, the delivery of spiritual care often falls to the chaplains and offered a plea to be patient and prayerful in all such encounters due to hospital restrictions. Perhaps another reason for us to be thankful for the participation of the Chaplains at our Annual Gathering as leaders in our breakout groups.
Then, on Friday, my brother called to let me know he is hospitalized due to Covid and today (Monday) another call was that he is about to go on a ventilator. He too falls in that all too familiar caution language about days 7-10 being the time when things can go one way or another. In the meantime, my daughter-in-law is likely going to be undergoing emergency gall-bladder surgery this afternoon or tomorrow after consultation with the surgeon.
Why share this personal story? Simply put…we are all aware that those things that are important to us can be upended in a moment’s notice. My father used to have a regular saying, “Plan for the future, live for the day”. For all our planning and desiring of how we would prefer things to be, they often are not, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better. Add to it the adage that “the only constancy is change” or that “the only changeless thing is the love of God through Christ” they become thoughts that can guide us in our journey through life.
You who are receiving this are church leaders at all settings of the church. Think about all that happened to you this week and offer it up to God in joy or in grief, in celebration or lament, with eyes wide open or eyes closed shut. It will change, it will stay the same, it will be in God’s hands. We will do our part as best as we are able, trusting that between our hands and God’s hands, the Will, will be done.
Blessings to each one whatever your journey has been or will be. Let us meet in the heart of God, in the Heartland Conference and beyond. Be Blessed, Be a Blessing.
-Rev. David Plant