“Joyful God, we thank you for this time together.
We thank You for the sun in the sky, the cool sea water, and the sand.
We thank you for yummy snacks, buckets, pales and beach umbrellas.
We thank you for our family, our friends and the life guards who keep us safe.
We ask that you bless us on this beautiful day and we praise you for this beautiful Creation that you have entrusted to us.”
A Message From Reverend Todd C. Vetter
June 27, 2017
A few years ago, Sarah and I were in eastern Pennsylvania for a few days of retreat. The Delaware Valley was in full bloom. It was a wonderful and refreshing time, after what had been a challenging and sometimes tumultuous year.
During a break, Sarah and I took a short walk to see the Raymondskill Falls, near the small town of Milton. We hiked down to the spot where the falls empty into a pool, before its final plunge to the creek below.
Watching the water flow down, it occurred to me that waterfalls are kind of an apt metaphor for ministry and for the life of the church as well. At times, the water washes over rocks in a torrent of foam; it throws up showers of spray as it crashes and beats against the rocks the boulders.
The fierce energy of the waterfall is so like the church in some ways. Like the water crashing down, we seek to pour out our energy, our excitement, our faith and commitment in the service of the gospel. Imagine, perhaps, the work of putting together the Christmas Pageant, of channeling wild, exuberant energy into that glorious hour in which we see and hear the story of the Nativity through the voices of our children. Or the work of putting into practice all the hard work of reimagining and rewriting our structure of governance.
Seeing the water pour down, it struck me that there is a lesson in patience there as well. All that force and power and caution can be seductive. The rocks can seem unchanged, unmoved by the water passing over them.
It’s not the case, of course. The rocks and boulders are moved, are constantly moved, and continuously shaped by the course of the water. Each generation of water that passes over the stone leaves its own small mark.
We are not the first water to pass over the rocks and we will not be last. For us, for the church, for life itself, change is constant. Sometimes it comes in our time, it flows out from our passion and our enthusiasm; but more often it proceeds at a pace ancient and deliberate. It comes in God’s time. We can foam and fulminate, crash and roar, but the rocks more often respond to gentle pressure, to the flow of the water, not to its force.
At the bottom of the Raymondskill Falls, the water spreads out in a small pool. Its energy spent for a moment, it grows stiller and calmer, as if reflecting upon where it has come from before gathering itself again to move back into the current, to find its new direction.
The quiet pool calls to mind the slower pace of summer, the time to collect and renew
ourselves. The longer days of summer invite exploration. It is a time for the church to take honest stock of where we have been, and to plan for how best we move forward, how best we follow the current of God’s leading.
I wish you all a joyful, restful, restorative summer … a season of renewal and recreation, a season that re-energizes us all for the new life for which God is always preparing us.