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December 22, 2017

When I went to Venezuela in 2006, I was the closest to the Equator that I had ever been. It felt weird to be in a place that had about 12 hours of both daylight and nighttime every day - throughout the year. Having grown up in New England and gone to college in the Pacific Northwest, this was drastically different from the long days of Summer and the long nights of Winter to which I was accustomed. Even though I was only there for a couple of weeks, something about just knowing that the days and nights barely shifted their apportionment gave me a feeling of disequilibrium. It felt stifling, in a way.

Since then, I have felt much more aware of the seasoning flavor of the shifting daylight- and of the Winter Solstice being the time when the sun is born again. And, so, I try to use it as a time for renewal and rededication.

As I look back on all that has happened in this past year and ahead to all that is coming in this next year, I feel excited for what is yet to come.

Since I arrived at Evergreen in August, I've been stocking up by trying to learn as fast as I can the culture and ways of this congregation so that I can best be of service to you all. Having gone through this process a number of times now (with each congregation that I have served), I know that it never goes as fast as I would like - and that, really, in some senses, it's never-ending. But a point is reached when I have enough wits about me to know roughly "how things work around here" that I can start to devote more of my time to actively building the future with you all - and I think that we're at that point.

In service of us building that future together, I have a few requests of you all:

  1. I've sat with a number of you to both get to know you individually and also to learn more about Evergreen through your eyes - but I have so many more folks to sit down with! If we haven't yet sat down together, one-on-one, please get in touch with me. I would love to schedule a time to do so.

  2. Especially if there's something that I'm doing that you either love or that you find grating or disappointing in some way, please let me know! Ideally, my ministry should be one of partnership and service to you all - so if I'm doing something that seems particularly "on" or "off" to you, that's some really important information for me to have. (I'm pretty good at learning by observation, but words are really helpful, too!)

  3. Talk with one another about what is the purpose of this congregation and what possibilities exist for our future. By this, I am not talking about maintaining or revisiting any norms, policies, rules, or traditions; satisfying the people who are already here; or attracting the people we wish were in our congregation. (All of those things are very important! They're just not what I'm referring to right now.) What I am talking about is focusing on our collective purpose and the possibilities for the future: What is not yet, but waiting to be birthed into the world through us? What are we called to address that is not yet accomplished? What might be dreamed for us? For what might we be the helping hands to make so? (And, as you have these conversations with each other, I would of course be most interested in what you come up with!)

As the daytime grows over these coming weeks and months, I look forward also to our growing together - our delightful learning about each other, our collaboratively navigating whatever bumps in the road that we encounter, and our finding joy in our ministry together.

In faith,

Pastor Tom

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