From the Pastor’s Keyboard

Dear Sierra Pines Family,

I was reminded this week, by a very wise lady who works in our church office, of a song from my childhood that has helped me through some difficult and constantly changing times in my life.  The Times They Are A Changing, by Bob Dylan; I know not a church hymn, but bear with me here.  I started out singing this around the campfire with my family as a kid. “Come gather ’round people wherever you roam” had great meaning as we gathered around that fire pit different generations, from different towns, and from different parts of the world. “Come mothers and fathers throughout the land and don’t criticise what you can’t understand. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command…” had meaning to me in my teens; to be honest I would sing it with gusto.  As it turns out, it had meaning to my parents in their own young adult hood too, but I never stopped to think about that as a teen.  I now find myself being the parent told “Your old road is rapidly agin’. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin’.”  I’ve gone through the times in my own pastoral call when the “writers and critics who Prophecy with your pen” seemed too numerous to count, but I’m reminded in the song of the hope that  “the loser now will be later to win for the times they are a-changin’”.  Each time I long to slow down the rapid speed of change I’m reminded “he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled” and assured that I’ll make it through because my life experience of 41 years has shown  “the present now will later be past… for the times they are a-changin’.”

With a birthday this past month being celebrated in Covid-19 social isolation I got to reflecting on how many struggles I’ve survived and how many changes I lived through. My first technology was records, 4 channels on the TV, and a rotary telephone.  I was the youngest group of kids to watch the challenger blow up on TV at school.  My Dad brought home an Apple II E computer from his classroom for the summer.  Recording radio shows on cassette tapes was the thing and VHS was new. In Jr High I became a peer counsellor after a classmate and  the next year my Aunt committed suicide. CD’s came out for music and small not so floppy disks for computers. I graduated High School and got enough college scholarships to go for 4 years! My mother died of cancer and college tuition doubled my money would only last 2 years.   My college bible study supported a Columbine survivor; her first year after was difficult to say the least.  DVD’s were new, but I still recorded the news coverage of 9/11 on a VHS tape because I couldn’t afford a DVD player. I was in the first class of college graduates after 9/11.  I got a BS in Wildlife Biology and a job where I had done 2 years of summer internships in school.  I lost my first job in that area before I even started, 3 months before graduation they cut funding for the national program.  I got alternative work, got married, and had kids. Smart phones now hold all photos, music, and everything that used to be in the little black book. My 30th birthday was celebrated in recession with 2 kids and no jobs. Got my first Laptop Computer so I could go back to school fill time, work “part time”, and raised kids full time.  Smart phones are now all you need for travel they can replace the average computer. I got an M. Div, after 10 years received ordination as an elder, finished a church building project, and my husband started a new job.  Three years later his company folded and we moved 4 times in one year.  Then 6 months later Covid -19 pandemic became a reality.

The times they just keep changing.  What I have learned never changes is God.  God is always there no matter how mad or sad I get.  No matter how much I struggle to cope and adapt to the new normal, no matter how happy I am and how joyful the moment; God is always there!
            I pray that we can all remember that fact as individuals and as a church in this time of rapid change.  They say my generation is supposed to be good at change.  I think in some ways we have never known anything but change.  I also know that changes can become “normal” in a surprisingly short period of time.  The Pentecost Season has historically been a time of Holy Spirit activity; leading to renewals, reformations, and great change for the Christian church.  We have a unique opportunity here to decide what the church will become out of this unexpected change.  What will become our “normal”?  From our “present” we will set in motion new church traditions that will be the next generations “past”.  We can be intentional about what those things should be and begin growing as a church together. Here we are, the Sierra Pines Family; all welcomed from diverse places and called to gather around the symbolic campfire of the Pentecost Season.  My story has come full circle. The choice is up to us; we can get out of the way of “the new road or we can lend a hand”.  We can live in a constant state of fear or a constant state of trust.  The state of trust simply requires that we remember God is still with us… Pentecost miracles can still happen… and the times are still a changin’.

May the Peace of God be with you all,  

Pastor Suzanne Calhoun