A Familiar Feeling?

I checked the weather again. Well, technically, I looked at the forecast on my phone. No snow had fallen yet, but people were warning me that it was gonna get bad. I downloaded a better app so I could follow hourly predictions. Would NCF’s plan to attend a predominantly black church across town for MLK Sunday be sabotaged by winter weather?

Was I supposed to worry? Did I need to make contingency plans? The one (!?!) thing that I had no control over was our climate. I contemplated this as I walked the dog under cloudy skies. The worrying about weather felt naggingly familiar. Like I’d been here before. A pattern. For me to notice.

Last spring, I felt prompted for NCF to host a Streetfest Against Violence for Good Friday. (Which seemed like God, since that was not my kind of idea.) Outside. On the street. March in Illinois. Musicians from across the community. What were we thinking?! The forecast cycled endlessly from promising to threatening. 

This fall we decided to take our service to the community garden up the street, partnering with another congregation for worship, lunch and garden cleanup. Mid-October could go either way; working in the freezing rain was not a pleasant prospect. What was my backup plan: postpone it and hope a future Sunday would be better? Host the lunch inside and cancel the workday?

The pattern of ominous weather forecasts before special New Covenant services was suddenly clear. So how was I to understand and respond? Each of these events proceeded on their scheduled day, regardless of how much time or energy I had spent worrying. Not in perfect weather, but without postponement or cancellation. Each was an incredible blessing of partnership in our community, a testimony to God’s encompassing love, and an inspiration to oneness. 

God isn’t unjust so that he forgets your efforts and the love you have shown for his name’s sake when you served and continue to serve God’s holy people. Hebrews 6:10(CEB)

A friend sent me this scripture in late September and I have kept it in an open tab on my phone, reminding me that God sees and does not forget. Which is not a promise of good weather. But prompts me to recall that none of these ideas emerged from a (secret, nonexistent) desire to be an event planner. God knows how these plans unfolded, and any illusion I have of control- over weather, over people- will only give me needless stress.

But it isn’t just the weather. We always have this choice. We can rest or we can worry. We can play it safe, or we can step out in faith. We can listen or we can let the sound of our own thoughts drown out the still small voice. Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for us. To pause in our constant planning, to rest in knowing that the world does not turn by our own efforts.

May we learn to release our illusion of control. May we listen and trust, secure in God’s faithful love. May we continue to pursue relationships and collaboration, despite apparent obstacles. And may we more fully enter into a Sabbath rest. 

Bulletin: 1/20
TV News: Two churches join forces to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
Sermon- NCF at Restoration Church: An MLK Collaboration 

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