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Pastor's Corner

Pastors' Corner - Summer 2024

2024 Summer Newsletter - Hear from each of Harbor's Pastoral Team



 

Rev. Sadie Cullumber


I think I’ve been so excited to begin this new study called Unraveled, that I unintentionally sparked a pretty significant unraveling in myself over the last few weeks. I shared in church last Sunday that I have been struggling with depression. It was hard to share in such a vulnerable way. 

After sharing this unraveling that is happening in me, I received so much care and compassion from so many of you. Some of you offered a hug. Others thanked me for sharing. One person brought me peonies that are still blooming beautifully in my kitchen. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that when we vulnerably share our hearts, it becomes such a blessing to others that they end up offering love, care, and vulnerability in their own way. This week I was blessed to see this happen in my life. I shared something vulnerable that a lot of others were able to relate to, and then I got to feel the love. 


I’m not sure it always works so quickly and seamlessly. In fact, I’ve experienced seasons of unraveling that felt endless. But that’s the way it is when we allow ourselves to be unraveled.  Sometimes it is contagiously joyful, and other times it is painfully grief-stricken. We can’t know what’s ahead, but we can choose to show up in our lives with authenticity and vulnerability. And when we live authentically and vulnerably, we can more easily navigate the rough terrain of our lives.


So what can we do when our lives and the world feels heavy and things are unraveling faster than we can keep track? I thought I’d share how I’ve been grounding myself through my recent experience of depression.


I’ve found peace in the garden that Ryan and I built at the parsonage. Sometimes I stand in the garden for a very long time with my feet in the grass and I just breathe. Sometimes I sprinkle the plants that need a little extra water. Sometimes I look to see if the marigold and calendula seeds I planted are sprouting. Sometimes I talk to the avocado tree. I often marvel at the new pomegranate buds and imagine their someday jewel-red fruit. I always smell the Cleveland and White Sages. Other times I wonder how big the carrots have grown below the surface. Or sometimes I chitter-chatter with the neighborhood squirrel who loves to scold me from the telephone lines above.


I very quickly lose myself in the drama of the garden. And it is a good place to get lost, to allow myself to unravel just a bit. And I remember scripture that reveals Jesus as one who walked in the garden and prayed in the garden. In my current state of depression, the images of Jesus in the garden give me great comfort. I recall the moment when Jesus cried out to God at the height of his unraveling sorrow, and then somehow I am able to speak my own sorrows to the plants and the bees. These moments in the garden are so healing for me and they offer me so much to bring back into the world. 


It would be nice if the troubles of my life and of the world would figure themselves out while I take a break in my garden, but sadly, this isn’t how it works. When I return from my moments in the garden there is still pain and violence, there is still disappointment and desperation. None of it disappeared or resolved itself. 


So why even bother with the kooky time in the garden? 


Because the time changes me. It allows me to walk in a more grounded way through all the chaos and noise. My time in the garden reminds me that life is beautiful, even when my heart hurts and the world feels heavy. The garden teaches me to slow down and stop missing the millions of miracles, the millions of signs from the holy one to stop and take a long, deep breath. 


And then I wonder, what if the whole world could stop for just a moment and breathe together, notice the birdsong, feel the warmth of the sun, perceive the breeze, and get lost in the pomegranates? 

As we begin this new study of unraveling, I pray you allow yourself moments in your garden–whatever that is for you. I pray you allow some old things to unravel in you. I pray you show up authentically and vulnerably for yourself and for others. And I hope you see just how important this is in building a world of peace, the kind of world Jesus was calling his followers to come and see.


 

Rev. Ryan Cullumber


Last week was the first week of our new sermon series titled Unraveled.  I love the title of this curriculum because it perfectly describes my own faith journey.  All of the dogma and beliefs I was taught as a child had to be unraveled in me before something new could be born.  Since I was raised in the Catholic church I had to confront the faith I was shown and had to allow it to compost and disintegrate.  


The Catholic church’s views about women and their second class status had to unravel.  The church’s opinion about the LGBT community also had to be confronted within myself and be disconnected from my new view on faith.  The idea of their being tests and requirements in order to participate in communion also had to perish.  The list goes on and on.  Lots of ideas I was taught as the truth had to unravel in me.  Those ideas were living in me whether I liked it or not and were affecting my life and my choices.


What I didn’t realize until I was much older is how the views of my childhood church were still determining my views of faith, spirituality and religion.  I rejected all religion once I reached adulthood because I rejected the teachings of the Catholic church. 


I let the Catholic church determine my views on all religions, the teachings of Jesus, and who was worthy of going to heaven, etc.  I didn’t allow those teachings to unravel within myself for 20 years.  Instead they were allowed to fester and taint my views about different perspectives on Christianity in particular and religion generally.

As we study together over these next three months we will encounter stories of people's lives unraveling.  This unraveling could be around preconceived ideas of God or one’s idea of self.  Ideas of identity will be unraveled.  We will also see faith unravel as well as a person’s dreams and internal shame.  As we see portions of other’s lives unravel in scripture, my hope is that we find the strength to embrace the unraveling that is sure to come into our own lives.  As we see in the scriptures, what one finds on the other side of unraveling is often beautiful and life giving.


I am looking forward to a summer where we allow those things that should have died within us to unravel.  I know I have more unraveling to do and I imagine you are the same way.  Let’s embrace our inner courage and allow the unraveling to happen together in community.  And may your faith journey continue to be blessed.


 

Pastor Janette J. Navarrete


For a person with such a Type A planner personality, my life sure has found MANY ways in which to unravel. From difficult times in childhood in which I had no say or control, to the dumb and cringe-worthy choices of adolescence, to the unexpected and yet not at all surprising call to ministry and change of life plans, my life has been in a constant state of change and growth. 


Our curriculum this summer walks us through a wide variety of biblical stories, all showing us ways that people's lives have unraveled, but that even in those moments, and maybe especially in those moments, God was by their side. Usually coming undone is seen as a bad thing, and it certainly isn't always fun, but it does allow for opportunity. In these scriptures and in our own lives we see how the community can step up and around us in in our time of need.

Have you gotten a chance to make a meal for a friend when they’ve fallen ill? Have you been able to carpool or care for friends' children when unexpected work comes up? Have you felt the prayers of your friends and family when your own life feels like it's fallen apart?

Church, as we head into this summer (a time that is famous for spontaneous adventures, last minute trips, and unplanned activities), let’s not go in with fear of things unraveling, but let's lean into the wonder of what happens after. How do you and the people around you show up in new ways? How do you see God as the one gently pulling on the strings of your perfect plans? How can we lean into the unknown, trusting that we will still be safe even if we stumble? How do we together create something new for the collective out of our individual threads and strips of fabric? 


One of the keys to being a good planner is knowing that not everything actually goes as planned. You can prepare, you can brainstorm, and you can even have backups, but you also have to remember that things will change and that there can be magic in the unexpected. Jesus modeled how to live a life of grace and compassion even in the midst of constant change and imposed expectations. So let's step onto the path, knowing we are each on our own way weaving in all of our unraveled parts. 


 

Thank you for reading!


To continue reading our 2024 Summer Newsletter in the recommended reading order, please click on the next post shown below in the Related Posts section.
 




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