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Pastoral Letter: November 26, 2021

"Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long."

--Psalm 25: 4-5--

On Monday, November 22, 2021, at 7 pm a congregational meeting of George Street United Church was convened and those present heard and deliberated on whether or not they would give the Church Management Team permission to enter into negotiations concerning the sale of the Church Annex.

I think that the Church Management Team was surprised at how little debate on the matter was actually had. It seems that many have come to understand the precarious position that George Street finds itself in at this time. The motion was unanimously passed and depending upon how negotiations proceed a follow-up congregational meeting can be expected.

I have been a witness to many tough decisions made by many congregations in my service to The United Church of Canada. Monday’s meeting was by far the best meeting of any congregation in a difficult place being asked a puzzling question I can remember.

Thank you for that. Thank you to Roger Angel for chairing what had potential to be an anxious and contentious meeting. Thank you to Riley Shea for making sure we had access to resources we might need in clear visual and textual forms. Thank you to George Parsons for being present to give us a concise overview of all the available information we had at the time. Thank you to all who attended and to all who asked questions and helped us to know better what we were being asked to do. All of you are gifts to be treasured.

The path ahead is not particularly clear because negotiations could stop at any time for any number of reasons. This is the least that the congregation can expect:

  • That negotiations will conclude with an actual offer

  • That the offer will be brought to the congregation for a vote.

  • That a successful acceptance vote of the offer is sent to First Dawn Eastern Edge for their approval.

  • That the offer becomes a deal with the ratification of First Dawn Eastern Edge.

Clearly this isn’t going to happen any time soon.

So we turn to Psalm 25, the liturgical Psalm that will help to inform us on the first Sunday of Advent. The Psalmist appeals to God to make God’s paths known.

Can we not identify with this petition? How many of us have not, during this pandemic, asked the question, “What do we do now?”

We who seek to follow in the paths of God find that God moves far more easily through space and time and other obstacles than we can. Sometimes, when we lose track of the path we are forced to be quiet and still so that we can hear the voice of God and take bearings from that. In our desperation to catch up with that still small voice we find the pounding of our own heart in our ears and the crashing of brush as we force our way through the wilderness hides the voice of God from us and we can quickly find ourselves lost.

Hence the appeal from the Psalmist to make paths clear.

Advent is all about God coming to us and not about our ability to follow. Advent is about building straight roads for God to use to come to us. Which is an interesting idea. We are right here. From where will God come? If we knew the answer to that question, we could start levelling the right mountains and filling in the proper valleys.

Though if God is indeed coming to us the hills and valleys may not be physical landmarks so much as they are allegories directing us to examine heart and mind further.

Could be a bit of both I suppose. All I know is that God is coming, and we should be making ourselves ready for whenever it is God finally arrives.

Grace and peace to you. May your Advent waiting not be in vain.

-Reverend John Maich

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