At that place Elijah came to a cave, and spent the night there.
He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING, SIT THERE! read the poster that my friend John put together inviting folks to come join his church for worship.
I scoffed. How are you going to tell me to sit here when I have to pack my entire house up, write a sermon, say goodbye, paint the house, gracefully end a pastorate, turn 30 this week, take a few days, start a new job, finish a project for the entire denomination, sell the house, say goodbye to my family, move to Cleveland, and start traveling around the country?
DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING, SIT THERE! Try just enjoying God as much as God enjoys you…. reads the poster.
Because finding time to sit and enjoy God in the fullness of Gods very self is high on my to-do list when there are people to connect with before we leave and ways to figure out how to say The Most Profound Sermon ever and the chaos is surrounding and I packed up my bookshelves and I can’t find my kitchen supplies and “people are coming to look at the house in 10 minutes can you be ready?” and Thomas Hooker needs lots of attention because he’s anxious and Erik needs lots of attention because he’s anxious and I probably should make an effort to get over to my parents house and find ways to schedule flights, and and.. and.. and.. and..
DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING, SIT THERE!
But the wind is tearing apart it all and where is God in this wind! But the storm is raging and where is God in this storm! But the earthquake shakes my very core and where is God in this quake! But the fire burns through everything, and WHERE is GOD in this FIRE!?
DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING, SIT THERE!
Ha. Yeah, sure. If I just sit down… a moment… then all the voices and thoughts will rush in anyway. If I just sit down… and spend some time with God… the way God wants to spend time with me… right? The way God wants to spend time with me. What will happen if I sit here? in the midst of the chaos of all the should’s and to-do’s and deadlines and close-made-connections and anxiety of maybe-i’ll-be-late and all the things that spill off my list and onto the list of someone else around here… What if I just… don’t…? And sit, instead?
It’s never been a strength of mine. Sitting. And not Doing. I’m so used to orienting my time to doing, that it’s no shock to me that Elijah was looking for God in the big things, and moving to find those answers in the wonders of the chaos. There is an element of shock in the way in which God sneaks in past all of that, though. Like Elijah— I did not find God in the doing— but rather in the being. Especially as I have tried to be intentional about leaving Wapping as best as I’m able.
Don’t just do something— sit there. Be there. Be present. Show up. Love well. These are some questions and some wrestling I’ve been engaging over the last few weeks. And you know what? Like Elijah, I was wrong. This time, I didn’t find God in the storm of packing and moving and cleaning and getting ready. I didn’t find God in the minutia of making sure all the emails were sent out and all the ends were wrapped up and everyone knew as much as they needed to know. I didn’t find God in the house-quake and firestorm of movement.
This week, I found God in the moments where I sat still. I found God in moments of reflection and gratitude, in people who stopped by my office to say thank you and wish me well. I found God in Noel, asking how to archive my time here, and in Teddy, who swung by for a hug, and in Christine and Jim who have been helping collect me boxes for weeks. I found God in Ben Love, who’s hugs I’m sure going to miss, and Ken Johnson who seems to be right where he’s needed. I found God in the quiet time taken with Ann Drake, who I’m sure has a direct line to heart-connections, and hugs and intention from Rick Usifer, and SPF, who pulled together a beautiful picture with send off’s, and the deacons, who are so thoughtful in getting me a suitcase for travel with gratitude. I found God in everyone who I got to hug last week at the party, and everyone here that I will have the beauty and honor of serving communion one last time together, and the moments where the awareness of the sacredness of local church ministry and pastoral caring showed up in such a big way.
Because, dear church, I’m not sure what God has in store for me. I’m not sure if I will serve in a local church like this one again. As I move into the National Setting of the UCC, I am so thankful for these past three and a half years, which have shaped my understanding of ministry. I’m thankful for having worked with Mark, who is SO gifted at pastoral ministry and listening—sitting in the stillness for the voice of God, and how he shares that gift liberally. I am thankful for the ways in which you have made space for me and Erik in this place, and especially thankful for the ways in which you have challenged yourselves to grow to love bigger and better and more on the behalf of those whom you have loved.
Wapping Community Church, I am honored to have been your pastor. It hasn’t always been easy, and it hasn’t always worked the way we thought, but it has been wholly holy. And as I sat in the stillness of this past week, amidst all the chaos, I couldn’t find anything other than gratitude and love, and praise for all that has been.
Don’t just do something, sit there.
And hear: “What are you doing here?” The still small voice of God seems to ask.
“Loving. Here, I am loving. And being loved.”
Thank you for loving me. And for letting me love you.