Last weekend I walked into a building and felt transported back to fourth grade. The halls had the same smell, the floor the same linoleum, the doors the same wooden trim, as the school I started after moving to North Carolina. In response, I felt both energized and anxious. I remembered the excitement of the new. I also remembered the anxiety of the new. This time of year always brings that combination of energy and anxiety, even without the prompt of a school building. Change is in the air and I both look forward to it and fear it.
How about you? As you start school, send your child to school, move to college, move your child to college, resume all the activities on hiatus in the summer, how are you feeling? As we prepare to kick off a program year at the church and get back into the annual cycle of stewardship, nominating elders, starting small group meetings and more, I am once again energized and anxious. I want it all to go well. No, I want it to go swimmingly, the classes riveting, the worship inspiring, the leaders eager, the people connecting, the church reaching out into the world, our congregation welcoming others into our congregation. But I can’t help but wonder if COVID will once again hobble our endeavors. I worry that all the angst in our culture will color our faith community. I know there are impacts of the past few years that we can’t yet know and others we know that will last a very long time. We still have much change to navigate.
And yet, we live in hope. We live in hope because we know that we don’t save ourselves and God does the transforming, not us. Sometimes I believe this enough to let the energy overcome the anxiety, the possibility overcome the fear. Always, I pray to be open to the leadings of the Holy Spirit and to be aware of the promised presence of God. And sometimes, in the midst of that mix, I get reassurance that we are indeed not alone. Like the dream I had this week.
In my dream, there were lots of people coming to me, to us, to be baptized. So many, in fact, that I worried we’d not gotten Session’s approval! (I am a Presbyterian even in my subconscious, apparently.) It was a group diverse in every way and I decided in my dream not to worry about the polity and just pour the water on them. I didn’t want to turn them away as they were so insistent on their need to come to the font. I said to one of them: “You are a beloved child of the covenant.” He responded, “That is so good to hear.” It was a joyous and chaotic scene of the newly baptized mingling with those welcoming them into the family. I awoke far more energized than anxious about all the new things God is doing, not just in my dreams, but here and now with us.