This isn't Luke but it sure looks like him! (G. Freidrich@Pixabay)
As you remember (am I suggesting that you may have forgotten?), last week I mentioned that I was cleaning out some old file cabinets. I know…you’d love to join in the hilarity that is my life, if only you could. Party on!
In the mass of file folders, I stumbled across an old article I had written when I was the OR-ID Annual Conference Lay Leader back in yesteryear 2009. Many of you are currently in the middle of Annual Conference meetings – either in person, on-line, or a hybrid of the two. This article seems to fit as we try to figure out what a post-pandemic United Methodist life looks like. As you read this keep in mind that my son, Luke, was 16 (now 27) and my daughter, Rachel, was 12 (now 23) when this was written.
I thought I recognized him.
And sure enough, it was “Firefighter Sean.” It had been a number of years since I had seen him.
“I don’t know if you remember me,” I said, “but I used to bring my kids to that little deli ‘Heidi’s’ every Friday for frozen yogurt and you and the other firemen – John and Bill – would be there.”
He did indeed remember. As I stood there talking to him, memories came flooding back of Luke and Rachel in a stroller, of getting yogurt (with sprinkles, of course), and meeting up with the guys who loved talking to my kids while they were taking a break from the firehouse across the road.
Suddenly, I choked up. I’m not sure what Sean thought as I was telling him through a cracking voice that Luke was now 5’11” and Rachel was in middle school.
Then he mentioned that he was temporarily sitting at “Firefighter John’s” desk and that John had a photo of Luke sliding down the fire pole after a post-frozen yogurt trip to the fire station nearly a decade ago. By then, I couldn’t even pretend to be composed as the tears rolled down my cheeks.
I have tried to figure out why I was so touched by this one seemingly innocuous reunion. It does remind me of a time that was simpler, when I had more control, when I had the answers to my kids’ questions.
I am here to testify that change is hard. The course is not always straight or smooth and often I feel blindfolded, putting one foot forward while hanging on for dear life. And as much as I romanticize the past, I cannot – nor do I really want to – stop what is to be the next grand adventure.
Our Annual Conference [and our denomination] is in the midst of great change. It is scary, it is exciting, it is hard.
In her book, Christianity for the Rest of Us, Diana Butler Bass recalls a line from a sermon she overheard, “Transformation is the promise at the heart of the Christian life.”
I don’t know about you, but “transformation” sounds a lot more exciting and a lot less scary than “change.”
Inevitably, whatever we call it, there will be a desire to do what is familiar, to return to what seemed like a simpler time, and to do it the way it’s always been done.
But, just like wishing Luke and Rachel would get back in their strollers (though that does hold some appeal, believe me), it would be wrong for them – and us – not to grow, change, and continue to become the people God has called us all to be – our transformation into disciples of Jesus Christ.
I think what touched me about my chance reunion with “Firefighter Sean” was thinking that someone remembered my children. With Luke’s picture up there in the firehouse, I even imagine that perhaps someone takes a minute occasionally to send up a prayer for him.
As Luke transforms into the young man God has called him to be, he needs all the prayers he can get.
Likewise, our Annual Conference [and denomination] needs all the prayers you can offer as we transform into the Annual Conference God has called us to be.
As always, with you on the journey…
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. For nearly 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Have you read about the young woman, Harvard-bound, who asked that her $40k scholarship be given to a community college student? It’ll make your day. You can reach Cesie at email@example.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.
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