PLUM Pastoral Message
Season of Changes
I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord;
they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 Common English Bible (CEB)
There is so much to reflect on this month...from the simple to the profound. I invite us to reflect together. Around us we see the leaves changing or have changed colors depending on where you live. We will change our liturgical calendar, with Christ the King Sunday (November 26) marking the end of the church year and start of another. We will enter into Advent, Christmas and all the joys these seasons highlight of our faith traditions.
In the early hours of Sunday, November 5 we change our clocks back. Remember to make that change. And, at worship, we honor the memories of our loved ones on All Saintsí Sunday. This day reminds us not only of our loved ones, it also brings to mind the day our lives were forever changed, the moment our beloved family member, friend, mentor or colleague was no longer with us. It is both a day of lament and joy as we hold the tension of missing them and knowing that they have entered the church triumphant. For me, this day is also a wonderful reminder of my ordination. Four years ago, on All Saints Sunday, I stood before you accepting the call to serve as one of your pastors.
Our denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is also experiencing changes. We are revisiting who we are as church through the Commission on Renewed Lutheran Church and we are striving to be the Future Church: Godís Love Made Real. We have committed to becoming a more diverse denomination. This commitment has had a tangible impact on my faith journey. In the past five years, I have been blessed to attend two historical bishop installation services. Last month, on October 22, I had the opportunity to attend the installation of the new bishop of the Virginia Synod, The Rev. Phyllis Blair Milton, the third African Descent female to be elected and installed as a Bishop in the ELCA. She is also the first female and first African Descent person to be elected bishop of the Virginia Synod. In September 2018, I was also honored to attend the bishop installation of the Rev. Patricia Ann Curtis Davenport, the first African Descent female elected bishop in the ELCA. Bishop Davenport serves the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod. I experienced these two installations as beautiful affirmation of my own journey. In 2018, I was a candidate for Word and Sacrament Ministry, serving as an intern here in PLUM. Five years later, I attended as a called an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament, serving at PLUM. The joy of sitting, first as an intern and then as an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament, is truly a testament to Godís abiding love and presence. These installations were amazing historic moments in the life of our church and they also affirm how God is calling us to move forward as a beloved community. The services reflected the beauty and diversity of how we can worship and praise God. (The services are available for viewing: Bishop Davenport (on Facebook), (Bishop Milton (on YouTube) And, the installation services lift up how we can be beloved community together at a time when our diversity is often a divider rather than a reflection of the expansive God we serve.
There have also been many changes in our ministry and the world around us. We will say farewell and Godspeed to one of our partner congregations, St. Paulís Lutheran Church in Canonsburg, at the end of the year, as they respond to Godís call. And, we welcome Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, in Pleasant Hills, as they join us for a year of discernment, beginning in January 2024. We experience these changes of lament and joy in the midst of our worldís continued pain and struggles, such as the armed conflicts in the Middle East (Hamas-Israel), in Europe (Ukraine-Russia), in Africa (Sudan) and our own struggle continues in the presidential campaign that is fraught with tension. PLUM continues to grow as we seek to be responsive to the changes in our world and in our communities. Next year will mark our 20th anniversary as partners in this amazing ministry that God has called us to.
Yes, everywhere we look, so much is changing around us. It is not always easy to move forward with so many changes. And yet, the constant that we can hold to is Godís presence among us. The prophet Jeremiah told the Israelites that God had a plan for them. And I know that God also has a plan for us, individually, congregationally and as a cooperative. The amazing thing about change is that it brings about something new. What is the new thing that God is calling us to? I pray that you are as excited (even with a little nervousness 😊) to see the unfolding of all that God has in store for us. Let us step forth boldly with kindness, compassion and a willingness to forgive each other, as Christ has forgiven us.
Looking forward to our blessed church year and the New Year ahead of us.
In service together,
Pastor Brenda and Your PLUM pastoral team
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773