I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. ~ 1 John 5:13-14
As the leaves change and fall around us, it feels natural to take time to reflect on my own journey of change over the past few months. And, let me tell you, it’s been a windy road getting here.
I am excited to now serve as an ordained pastor of Word and Sacrament with the ELCA. And I hope you will be able to join for my Installation at Trinity on November 14 at 4PM (shameless plug!).
But I’ll be honest; in some ways, it doesn’t feel like this grand transformation into something entirely new and big and shiny. Part of that is because I’ve been serving with the church for ten years and feel like that time of service had meaning just as much as this new call does. But I think part of it, too, is that things have unfolded in a more lackluster way than I expected. I didn’t have a formal, in-person graduation from seminary; my ordination service was small and missing some important people in my life; and - truthfully - I feel a bit uneasy about the installation service coming up. What if it’s cancelled (like so many other things, lately)? What if my parents can’t come at the last minute? Will the bishop make it from the service she’s leading beforehand, or will something happen that keeps her? Will I remember everyone's anyone’s name that joins in person?
I feel weary. I’m sure you do too. And I’m wondering: do you also feel like your life is lackluster these days?
When, like the leaves, things change and fall through, it’s easy to feel bogged down with little hope or inspiration. But as I drive back and forth on Aurora Avenue / Hwy 99 between work and home, I’ve started to notice something that I hadn’t before. Yes, there are trees sprinkled throughout the drive that are in various states of their autumnal transformation; but this city has another life form that adorns the landscape unlike any other city I’ve seen. Through the changing seasons, evergreens stand tall as a reminder that not everything goes through a grand transformation; some things remain constant.
As we approach Advent and the Christmas season (in the church and the secular world), we’ll start to see “Christmas trees” pop up. The tradition of Christmas trees is believed to have come from the Germans in the 16th Century and to this day they’ve become a beautiful symbol for Christians around the world. Pope John Paul called the Christmas tree a symbol of Christ, saying the ever-green life seen in them throughout the cold Northern hemisphere winters serve as a reminder of the undying life we have in God through Jesus Christ.
In this place that many of us call home, we have this symbol of undying, unwavering life surrounding us all year long. Through change - good, bad and everything in between - we are reminded that we can always rely on a God who is steadfast and shows up for everything and everyone.
When I found out I was moving to the Seattle area, I expressed my concern for the dark and dreary days to a good friend who lived here for many years. “How did you do it?” I asked. She told me, “Yeah, it’s wet and cold, but it’s also green all the time.”
When you feel like life is lackluster, wearisome and lacking in vibrancy, look for an evergreen (Really, get up and go find one! You might even go up to it and touch its bark - or give it a hug!). God is with us through the dark and dreary days, through our disappointments, through our joys and through every season of life. So much has changed and will continue to change as we move forward together. I hope you too can start to notice the evergreens and the ways in which God shows up each day all around us.
In Christ, Pastor Jenna Bergeson