by Pastor Vera Guebert-Steward
1 Sing a new song to the LORD! Let the whole earth sing to the LORD! 2 Sing to the LORD; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. 3 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. 11 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! 12 Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy 13 before the LORD, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth.
(Psalm 96:1-3; 11-13 NLT)
September 18 is the 8th anniversary of our Aaron’s death. Mark and I have walked an interesting 8-year journey since that fateful and devastating day; the day of Aaron’s 30th birthday that became the death day of a promising, earthly life. We have grieved deeply and at times, still do. Some days and months I have managed my sadness with dignity. Other days and months my grief has effused at you or at someone else I love, hurt you, and even pushed you or others away. My 17.6 years of ministry has had three particularly rough patches: the issue of sexuality in the ELCA in 2009, Aaron’s death in 2010, and Mark Meyer’s departure in 2012. I can’t say I handled any of these difficulties with full integrity. God knows, I tried. But trying doesn’t always produce the desired positive results one hopes for.
I used to sing during my sermons. I didn’t sing often, but when I did, on pitch or not, I shared a vulnerability; a message from deep within my heart and soul. Over the last 8 years I’ve been less inclined to sing; to be that vulnerable with a people I love so deeply. I’m sorry for that. I have simply been in protection or defense mode for a long time. I was hurt so deeply by Aaron’s death that I withdrew my love for fear of the pain of another loss.
Having presided at four funerals in the last month and having attended Mark’s 63-year old cousin’s funeral in Monte Vista August 18, I realize more intensely than ever how fragile, brief and precious our earthly journeys are. Wish I could take back some of the pain I’ve caused others. But like you, I must lean into the grace of God.
The Psalmist writes: “Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord.” Once again, we enter a new school year and transition from summer to fall. Once again, we have the chance to enter into a new season and sing a new song with exuberant joy. Who knows how long any of us will be around. I guess that’s all the more reason to live well, forgive often, and live in love with each other.
Together, and by the grace of God, we can continue to make a God-shaped impact on the community of Evergreen, the surrounding mountain communities and yes, even the world. Come to church my dear brothers and sisters. We begin our fall worship schedule on September 9. The choir returns in full force and Faith Formation teachers are awaiting your arrival. Renew your commitment to attend worship, study God’s Word and give your heart away. Most of all, renew your commitment to come and sing with me, a new song. Much love in Jesus to each of you.