From the District Superintendent

Whose Hearts Will Be Broken?

Posted 11 July, 2019 by Rev. Kathleen Overby Webster

I had not been the pastor there long at all, when she came by to talk with me. She was the church organist, had been for well over 50 years, she taught the pre-school Sunday School class, all the children, including eventually my own son, called her MeMaw. Though it was many years ago, I remember clearly the tears glistening in her eyes and the sheet of paper she clutched in her hand.

She had a poem for me to read, one that she had written ...

Shortly before I moved to that church, they had completed a new accessible fellowship hall addition. It had ceilings high enough for volleyball and was large enough for half-court basketball. There was a kitchen, accessible restrooms with changing tables, and a new senior adult classroom on the same level.  And above those rooms, extending the pitch of the high fellowship hall roof the full length of the building, at the top of some rather steep stairs, another spacious classroom and my office. Overall that physical plant addition was a wonderful tool that would be well-utilized in on-going and new ministries and missions. (As one community leader noted it was the only place she saw black and white kids playing ball together).

But back to that day... There she stood in front of me, eyes brimming with tears ... "Did anyone," she asked, "tell you about the tree?"

Where the brand-spanking-new building now stood, there had been a tree ... a beautiful tree, a tree she had loved her whole life long.

It wasn't she said, that she thought the addition was a bad idea. But she wanted it to be built in a different spot (I never was sure where else it might have gone, around existing sanctuary, cemetery, property line, parking area and road).

The poem she'd written was about the day they cut the tree down and how the blade of the chain saw hit a hidden iron hitching post that was embedded in the tree. She felt some vindication.

But the truth is, the church moved ahead with what it clearly discerned to be God's will for its next faithful step in ministry even though it broke her heart.

The great sweep of biblical imperatives compel us: Go to a new land; move onto the next town, stay and pray. Cross over to the other side of the road, go up the mountain, go down the mountain, enter, depart, look ahead, don't look back!

Right now, despite of or because of our denominational churn,  what new place, way, need, concern, desire, fruit, hope is God calling us to/pushing us toward/inviting to join/offering us as pure grace right now, right here? I can't help but wonder whose hearts will be broken as we come to know and do God's will ... 

In the peace and hope of Christ,

Kathleen