On Trust and Love
March 17, 2023
My husband and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary this week. It seems like yesterday that we were in Madison, Florida, taking our wedding photos at the gazebo downtown, surrounded by bright pink azaleas, live oak trees with Spanish moss, and green grass. After 22 years, we have lived in 8 homes in two states, had 13 appointments to local churches, been loved by 6 cats, and are raising 2 kids. Our photo albums are full of photos of friends and family that we have shared life with over the years. We are blessed. We haven’t always agreed and it hasn’t always been easy, but we have many years of trust and love built up. We could say we’re like a favorite t-shirt that you put on—soft and comfortable and comforting.
I thought about this relationship in contrast with the relationship that I have with you, St. Mark’s. We haven’t even known each other 22 months. We have few photos together of big events—not too many birthday parties or anniversaries or other big events. We don’t have longevity. It’s harder to trust one another or to believe that we know each other.
The reality is, most United Methodist pastors won’t be in a church for 22 years. We can’t wait until we have a full photo album before we can trust one another. We jumped into this relationship with both feet when I got here, and we have done some hard work together. I cherish the ways that you have extended your trust and your love to me, and I am grateful for what we have shared so far.
I know we are in a challenging season right now. We have growing pains of new faces in worship, new rhythms in the office, conversations about merging with another church, strategic planning… changes that seem to be heaping on top of each other in quick succession. It can seem that our familiar relationship with the Church is tenuous. Like we just got a new haircut or a new pair of glasses and we’re wondering if we will ever get used to it.
I want to encourage you today to hang in there.
Beneath the exterior things that have changed, the core of who we are and why we gather has remained unchanged. We continue to be a church that believes we can change the world through Christ by caring for all people. We care through our generous missions offerings. We change the world through our hands-on missions projects. We show our youth and children love and care through our commitment to them. We care for others and the world as we offer worship with excellent music, in a variety of ways. None of that has changed. We continue to be a church that cares and believes that the world can be changed for the better.
Underneath all that is changing, the solid foundation of our faith is unwavering. We worship a God who invites us receive the love God offers, and to share that with others. This will never change.
Those two kids who got married 22 years ago have changed over the years. We’ve added a few pounds, found some wrinkles, discovered grey hairs. But beneath it all, we are the same people, committed to one another, our family, and our calls to serve Christ. We continue to wake up each day and wonder what God has in store for us next.
I pray this is how St. Mark’s continues into our future. We have much to celebrate and so much is going great. We have new members. Seasoned members are returning. Chancel Choir is growing. Volunteers are finding a place to serve. Our youth are excited to come to our programming. New leaders are stepping up. The list goes on and on.
I wonder what God has in store for us next? May we look back 22 years from now and give thanks for how God has moved us!
See you soon,
- 8:30 a.m. Traditional service in Sanctuary and child care in Rm 15
- 10 a.m. Traditional service in Sanctuary and child care in Rm 15
- 10 a.m. Youth and children’s Sunday School and child care (except fifth Sundays)
- 10 a.m. Livestream premieres on YouTube and Website
To access our livestream service:
- From the main menu on our website click “Worship.” -OR-
- Go to YouTube and search for UMC St. Mark’s Oro Valley or use this link.