Dear God, our shelter and our strength, we come today looking for your direction to lead us through hard times, times of uncertainty, times of challenge. We come with faith believing that you can do all things and for that reason we are not fearful or dismayed. Instead we will lean into you, and love and serve in a way that leads to new life. Amen.
Every year while I attended Wesley Theological Seminary, I selected a scripture that would be my “scripture of the year.” My scripture the first year was Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
The second year I chose Is. 40:31, “…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” During my final year of seminary, it was Is. 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Each of these scriptures grounded me when the pressures of seminary-life seemed overwhelming. They were comforting and empowering.
Since the pandemic hit, I have found myself turning to Psalm 46, holding tight to the image of God being my refuge and strength. I envision myself inside a cave, similar to the one that David hid in when Saul was pursuing him. God’s presence is like a refuge, enveloping me with sustenance and protection during these extraordinary times.
As someone who recently graduated from seminary and is starting my first appointment as a lead pastor, I admit that I have been shaking my head about the timing. Why now, God? I’ve asked many times. Being a new pastor is challenging enough. New surroundings, new responsibilities, new people, new ministries. Even with my Master of Divinity degree, there is still so much to learn. Add to all that a life-threatening virus, a lockdown, social distancing, masks and countless Zoom meetings!
Moreover, we are still reeling from the horrific death of George Floyd and the massive demonstrations and calls for justice that followed. The outcry and demands to address systemic racism has caused both tension and inspiration across the nation.
Yet, despite my trepidations as a fledgling pastor, I know that God has called me to pastoral ministry at this time. All my life experiences, education and work have prepared me and brought me to this point. I thank God for the privilege of being a spiritual leader during these very trying times in our country’s history. I know that even when the mountains seem to be falling into the sea and the water is roaring and foaming, God will strengthen me to fulfill my calling.