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Singing A New Song

Psalm 98 and Excerpts from To Bless the Space Between Us, by John O’Donohue

May 5th, 2024

By Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche


Hello again it’s beautiful to see you! I keep waiting for it to feel more summery, but I give thanks for the moisture! 

If you are so moved, I invite you as you are comfortable, to take some deeper breaths -letting go of the lists or the worries or the worlds’ wounds, just for a time, to be open to receiving whatever word the Universe has for each of us today. 

I invite you to join me in a spirit of prayer as we are all held by these ancient words from Psalm 19: God may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

If we are up for it, being willing to change, to continue to learn, to evolve, to deepen or to widen our sense of things and what could be, it’s clear that life is richer if we are willing to do all of that. 

I see it regularly and I feel it as I age, even where it pushes against what’s most convenient.  And you know I say, if we are up for it, because it’s evident that not everyone is up for it- continuing to change or having different experiences or meeting new people or in the poetic words of the Psalmist, “singing a new song” can make us uncomfortable, at least at first.  

Also, I think sometimes we resist even that which would be better for us because we are afraid. What will it be like? What if it goes wrong? What if it would have been better off to do the thing we always did, sing the familiar song? 

Whether it’s wondering where we would fit or how we would do it or what it would sound like or look like or feel like, if it could really work. In my experience most anyone or anything New is typically preceeded and sometimes accompanied by both internal and external nos. They can manifest in a variety of forms. A new person, a new experience, a new relationship, a new way of doing or being, the truth is that at any time in our lives, new is ultimately taking a chance-  welcoming the unfamiliar, or at least make space for it somewhere; it’s some level of risk. So the nos kind of make sense. 

A new beginning of any flavor is really an act of faith. And that is hard. And that takes practice. And because it can be so difficult, often our response is to hold on to something that isn’t working, just because we know what to expect. Has anyone ever done that?

Or we speak or act negatively toward the new person or the new idea because that’s just easier than trying to make room for the questions or the difference. Or we justify a relationship or a behavior or a program that isn’t really thriving because it’s what we know how to do. I feel like there is a lot of that going on in our world.

But here’s the thing: on the other side of all of that is something valuable- a treasure even. That line from John O Donohue really resonates with me.  He says, “the secret riches of our lives (are) best achieved when we place profound trust in the act of beginning.” 

There is something precious and important on its own in being willing to leave the familiar behind.

And still any beginning, any new songs in our repertoire can make us uncomfortable.

I know I often think of all the things that can go wrong.

And yet there is richness, a preciousness in singing new songs. 

I have found myself reflecting on all of the new songs we have learned to sing together over our years of shared ministry and all of the new beginnings we have trusted and all of the new people and new ideas and new ways of being that we have embraced. 

We are in the final weeks before our time of congregational renewal, where I will be away for 3 months, and it does feel like the end of a season and the beginning of a new one. Among all of the things I feel, I find myself feeling gratitude and wanting to say thank you. So maybe it will be like love letters.

Since I started as your Pastor in January 2019, together and separately we have learned, changed, evolved, deepened and widened our sense of what could be.

Of course, not everyone was up for new songs, metaphorically or literally, but those of you who stayed and those of you who have come since, are all a part of the collective chorus. Thank you. 

Part of what drew me here when I began a nationwide search, knowing it was time to leave my own familiar behind, part of what drew me here, and part of what keeps me going and continues to give me hope in a time when almost weekly there are articles about the church in decline, but part of gets me out of bed each day and what drew me here is that our church is willing to take risks, for new people, new ideas, for new ways of being. Becoming Open and Affirming in the 1990’s when that was not as hip, welcoming refugees and immigrants from at least three countries over the years, protesting war, pushing for legislation aiming to prevent gun violence, and so many other bold, out on a limb, beautiful actions, not because they were comfortable, but because all of these things are part of being faithful. It's inspiring to be connected to a courageous crew, that is you.

Thank you for being a part of evolving our statements and our structure, our worship and our website, our way of showing up in the digital world. Thank you for being a part of evolving our work for justice and having the courage to leave the ease of the status quo behind by removing part of our lawn (okay this was radical at the time) and planting a garden and removing our sense that thoughts and prayers were adequate by building the guns to gardens safe surrender movement. 

Thank you for being open to retreats and community office hours and events and being a site for bringing people together for a shared purpose or just for fun. 

Thank you for being open to my own evolutions as a preacher and a teacher, thank you for supporting experiments and for being open to my “What about this?” 

Thank you for supporting me in figuring out when to lead from behind, beside, and here maybe sometimes even from the front. 

We changed our vision statement to note that we care about an ever-evolving view of the Holy and I think our culture here is that this is true about other things as well; it is healthy and holy to evolve- even though you might not know that if you talked to the average Christian in this country. 

I think it is holy when we get more information, have new experiences, share life with new people and new ideas, we are blessed to be open to changing, changing our thinking, our way of doing, our way of being, singing new songs of all kinds.

As we heard from John O’Donohue, “Perhaps the art of harvesting the secret riches of our lives is best achieved when we place profound trust in the act of beginning. Risk might be our greatest ally.” 

Thank you for being both rooted in history and reaching fully and completely into this moment right now. It is an honor to be your Pastor and to continue to sing a new song with each of you!

Do you see being open to change as essential to your spiritual journey? How do you sing new sings in your life? Is change something you embrace? Have you ever held onto something that wasn’t working, just because you knew what to expect? And to you who are a part of our worship on the livestream, you are invited to journal or discuss with those in your home or ponder on these same questions.


COMMUNAL REFLECTION 

Beloved of God, let us keep singing new songs individually and collectively! Thank you for being willing to evolve with me. May it carry on. May it be so. Amen.


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