Two days in a row! Don’t get too excited. This is a sermon week (my first at my field ed), so there will be more activity here. I wrote an article for their weekly newsletter teasing my sermon as well as giving some of my general thoughts of my summer thus far. I thought you might be interested:
Every time something funny or unexpected happens, my grandfather always smirks and says: “Something different every trip.” I feel like this is a pretty good summation of the first half of my time here in Birmingham. Every day is a new adventure and a new set of experiences and people to meet and get to know. I have been welcomed at worship with your smiles and handshakes, and have learned so much from observing your meetings, hearing your stories, and participating in your ministries.
One of my goals this summer was to get to know the Metro-Detroit area. As I have driven around the city, I am reminded of these opening words to the book of Lamentations: “How lonely sits the city that was once full of people!” In a world where these words are both poetry and reality, this text can be difficult to read. So often we focus on the negative realities which are all too apparent: pain, suffering, poverty, death. However, if you push through the sorrow of Lamentations, you see that underneath the surface of the author’s words lies a deep and abiding trust in a good God. There is a peace which allows for such a deep lament. This faith gives rise to one of my favorite passages in scripture: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23).
One of the benefits of this summer has been that I have been able to step away from the regular cycle of lectures and reading that characterizes seminary life and instead to embrace the realities of the church-work to which I am called. While I love what I am studying, the repetitive routine represents a constant temptation to simply go through the motions without giving thought to what is going on around me. So often life can seem like we are on a conveyor belt with life pulling us along and it is all we can do to keep our gears on track and maintain a sense of control. Just as the darkness of the world can blind us to the ultimate power of God, so too can the quotidian aspects of life dull the beauty of God’s work all around us.
In my six weeks in Birmingham I have been inspired by how this church embodies and enables God’s love and mercy both within the ‘lonely city’ of Detroit and across the world. This is in so many ways an amazing church with a great staff. Everyday their warmth and kindness has enlivened even the most mundane of tasks. Thank you so much for everything thus far and I look forward to the many adventures still in store—they will certainly be “something different.”