“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” -Job 1:21
Over the past month I have visited both churches where I was commissioned and released from my role as pastor and teacher in the Pacific Northwest in March to join you all in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. One community is a 125 year old predominantly white congregation who called me as their first queer, African-American pastor; and the second a new church start birthed 12 years ago to be a safe place for folks of color, who were also LGBT that had been displaced from various congregations because of who they were. Somehow these two very different and diverse congregations shared a pastor, similar sermons, occasional joint worship and missional outreach to the community. When I was preparing to transition these were the questions of my heart: Why would God call me to leave these jewels in the Church? Why would God lead me to leave such a model of who we could be as the UCC? What could possibly remedy or feel the void from such loss?
After some prayer and discernment at that time, I realized my framing was all wrong. I wasn’t losing. I wasn’t losing the work of the past 12 years or my church families. The more I curated my experience in loss the more sad and despondent my departure became. The Spirit reminded me that I could choose to use a lens of gratitude. I was immediately uplifted with the amazing memories I had serving these congregations. The first drag show, the first baptisms, the first time we used online giving, the first communion at pride event.
My life was so filled with gratitude that I realized that loss was simply a distraction, blocking me from the abundance I had been privileged by the divine to experience. This abundance would follow me for the rest of my ministry in the church.
These wandering six months ago have proven to be true as I have ministered in the Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota Conferences and as I have seen the move of God through her Spirit, I know i have not lost but gained abundantly.
What have you framed as loss that you could choose to see as a blessing of abundance?
Holy One, help me to see how blessed I am, in the midst of transition and change. Help me to see that when one moment in our journey changes we will always carry the life and mission with us forever. Amen
Rev. Darrell Goodwin
Associate Conference Minister