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If “you’re muted” was declared the “Phrase of the Year” by more than one recent publication and “resilience” has laid claim to “Word of the Year” for 2021, I’d like to nominate “pivot” as worthy of a place on the podium.

“Pivot” had already been an overused Silicon Valley buzzword for a while before becoming the darling of business, politics, and, yes, churches as we all learned to operate in ways distinct from a pre-pandemic era. It was a way of describing the adjustments we had to make to a new “normal” that wasn’t “normal” at all. One can understand pivoting’s obvious appeal. If “flip-flopping” was weak, pivoting was powerful!

A more frank observer has noted that, even prior to all of last year’s closures and cutbacks, pivoting was used in the tech sector as the equivalent of “failing gracefully.” I appreciate the honesty. In many ways, pivoting is what educators and health care workers have been forced to do in light of the way our country is stiff-arming the implications of COVID-19. In so many ways, we have failed one another; and the sooner we can readily admit it, the sooner we can chart a different, if still wounded, course. I pray daily for us as a church that we can appreciate where there are still such lessons that we have to learn in this arena.

To “pivot” might then also be an apt expression for our response to the reality of climate change. I have been struck by a series of articles in the most recent edition of Christian Century which have challenged me to re-think radically how the biblical notion of “stewardship” is upended in a time when the implications of a warming planet are no longer a future threat, as much as a very current reality. Images from a powerless New Orleans to a flooded northeast to a fiery west come to mind. How might we use a growing awareness of having failed to act in a timely manner to respond more humbly, more faithfully, and more honestly in the days and years ahead. Where are you and I being called once again to “pivot” more than we’ve been willing to do in the past?

See if you don’t note some parallels to “pivoting” amid the avalanche of hyperbole within Jesus’ teaching in this Sunday’s gospel! We will be venturing back into an especially tough section of Mark 9 that seems intimidating for even the most avid disciple! Join us for worship at 8:30, 10:30, or on-line and let’s see how we might discover a word of grace within it.

And while you’re at it, I invite you to join me on the northside patio at 9:30 as I share a few more insights from my summer sabbatical. If you have younger children, we hope that you’ll join Lyn Peterson in the sanctuary at 9:40 for our “Family Sunday School” launch!

Meanwhile, after a host of apparent scheduling conflicts, I am pivoting to re-launch our new “Next Steps” series tonight at 6:30 for anyone interested in learning more about Holy Trinity and our ministry! Hope some of you can meet me there!

Sharing the Mission,

Pastor Tim

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