By Lori Raible
Let me go ahead and get this out there: I’m one of those people who texts at red lights. You honk at me when the light turns green. Save your breath, I know the danger. I’m working on it. In the meantime, I still congratulate myself for not texting while the wheels are spinning. You see, I am in recovery from an overbooked, maxed-out, unintentional, energy-sucking schedule.
Last year, while I was still too busy to realize how isolated I had become, a friend invited me to help organize a NEXT Church conference for our region. Good thing for him, I unintentionally said YES and joined a few other (seemingly more balanced) folks. Good thing for me, God tends to make something transformative and holy out of the jumbled mess we offer up.
How is it, as church leaders we serve as catalysts for relationships and builders of community on behalf of God’s children, yet so often neglect our own need to be connected with one another as God’s gathered people?
Within the span of a few months, our motley planning team came to know and lean on one another in unexpected ways. The small group collectively endured: a cross-country move, two pending babies, a new career, children woes, serious illnesses, and the “usual” gifts and responsibilities of ministry. Yet by the power of the Holy Spirit, together we created a space to celebrate and worship a God that repeats to us over and over again:
Fear not, I AM with you.
God really would have been the best at Twitter. Even if I had received that text directly from God, I’d have missed the point.
Honestly, as concerned as I am about the future of the PC(USA), I get tired of hearing the complaints. Numbers and money and ‘NONEs,’ property and politics and policies . . . it’s all critical and messy work. I am as committed to that transformative process as you are. Re-creation is always messy.
But, if we forget God’s promise, if we forget to hold fast to the rich story,
of whom we have always been, and whom we are called to be,
if we expect God to show up on our handhelds between appointments and deadlines,
then we will surely miss what God has in store for us NEXT.
NEXT Church has reminded me that its best to put the phone down and drive, with humble intentions, to the place where I can look my Christian brothers and sisters in the eyes, the place where we can share and celebrate the joy and passion of being called together as Christ’s Church. NEXT Church is the place we say to one another, “Fear not, I AM with you.”
Lori Raible has served Selwyn Avenue as an associate pastor since 2009, but has been on the staff since 2007. Having graduated from Union Presbyterian Seminary in 2005, Lori enjoys staying connected to the seminary community as she is able. Lori graduated from Wake Forest University where she ran track and cross-country before embarking on a sales career. She met her husband Rob along the way, and they have two children who love to run the halls of Selwyn, Joe (7) and Maeve (6). Lori is active in the NEXT Church Community, has served as a conference leader at Montreat Conference Center, and was selected as fellow for the interfaith clergy program at the Chatauqua Institute in 2010. Lori enjoys writing, running, photography, and sneaking away to Charleston with her husband when they can.