Bishop Weaver has reminded us that we are on a journey. What we are experiencing today as a momentous event will someday be looked back upon perhaps as but a bump along the way. What today may seem like a dead-end will, in the light of the journey, be seen as but a detour. What appears today as a tremendous relief may, in the long haul, become just one blessing among many.  Just by virtue of being alive in this ever-changing world, we are on a journey, even when we are not moving from one place to another.

When we are United Methodist pastors, however, the journey inevitably includes moving from place to place. Laypeople experience this as they graciously bid farewell and then welcome pastors. Pastors experience this as they leave behind one place and then enter into a new place. The image of the journey becomes a real-life experience at that point. Every year we see this happening, either up close and personal or from a distance and empathetically.

This year, we bid farewell to seven pastors and associate pastors on the Alexandria District, and we welcome nine others who have been sent to serve in our churches. (See article below.) Their journey to new appointments and new places gives us hope for our journeys even when we have not had to move.  The changes that we are experiencing, in culture, in church, in life’s circumstances … these changes can be challenging but they can also be openings to new possibilities, new opportunities, new life. And because it is a journey we can rest assured that what is today’s challenge and/or newness will be tomorrow’s lesson learned and/or familiar territory.

The comfort of realizing we are on a journey comes in the knowledge that we do not journey alone. The risen Lord Jesus promises to go with us, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20), and our ultimate dwelling place, our everlasting home, no matter where we may be on the journey, is God (Psalm 90:1).  When we know that in God we live and move and have our being, we are freed to embrace the journey, with all of its contingencies and uncertainties, trusting in the grace sufficient to carry us home (Psalm 28:9) In these transitional times, I take solace and find strength to move on the journey as it unfolds in unexpected and even unwelcome ways.

Grace and Peace,