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Dear family of God at Gloria Dei,

Thank-you for your support in sending me, your pastor to the Bishop's Annual Study Retreat at the UBC Loon Lake Conference Centre. I was unable to attend last year due to my mother's death and in the two previous years the retreat took place via Zoom. . . . so, it is a real treat for me to participate in-person this year. I've enjoyed catching up with colleagues I haven't seen in awhile, and the speaker Dr. Kayko Driedger Hesslein, was excellent as she spoke to us about our Lutheran commitment to "good order," and invited us to think about the ways that it may hinder us in serving our neighbor, especially those who are from marginalized communities.

A highlight was a canoe paddle this afternoon, with Stephanie - whom some of you know.Your pastor surprised herself with how well she did in steering the canoe and staying dry! The hardest part was not in paddling, but in figuring out how to get out of the canoe after we docked without tipping it!  

I walked a lovely meditation path through the forest yesterday and today, and one of the meditations particularly struck me as applicable to us and to the church. 

The meditation invites us to reflect on our fear of change and the unknown. We are reminded that change is part of the natural cycle found in nature -- of growth, then conservation, and then, perhaps through a disruption like a wildfire, nature releases what was and experiences renewal, continuing to grow and evolve into new possibilities.  Like nature, congregations also go through cycles.  The last twelve months have seen us try to find our footing again after the disruption of the pandemic.  As we continue to walk into God's future for us, I wonder what is the Spirit beckoning us to continue to release so that we can grow and evolve into a church and congregation adapted to the new circumstances and not the church that was?