Dear Beloved Community,
On this Monday, June 12, 2017, I am at a loss for words, which is pretty rare for me—as you have already witnessed. I have been with you for 148 days, nearly 5 months, serving as your Pastor at Community United Church of Christ. Some of the days and weeks have been long, yes, but most have been filled to overflowing. I find myself overwhelmed with peace and joy as the excitement and energy from being in your midst ushers me from one page to the next—expectantly. I am sitting now at my own kitchen table, with the soft humming of the dishwasher in the background, birdsongs bouncing off the glass behind me, the natural light competing with the chandelier above my head to illuminate this space. My daughter is home sick today with a virus that warms her tiny body to the point of tears. She is sleeping now, and I am thankful. I am overwhelmed with gratitude today for many things; but mostly for how the Spirit has blessed my family with the incredible gifts of you.
Each community has a personality as does each Pastor; we are learning one another in these filled to overflowing days. I am a high-energy, extrovert with thoughtful opinions about most things, yet a contemplative Spirit for whom quiet and calm are a necessity if I am to be present and prepared. You are a beautiful, diverse, blend of humor and cynicism, of playfulness and sensitivity, of deep faithfulness and an enduring optimism; your heart beats for the least of these and bleeds for All of God’s creatures. Your silent reverence, your steady and simple expressions of God’s many faces and names invite children to dream and wonder, and paint the stars both above and beneath their feet. Yours is a table that both feeds the hungry and well-fed and invites others to serve and be served. The food you offer becomes the source of all that binds you together; your hands, feet, heart and souls are poured out as if an endless array of God’s abundant love and care.
In reading scripture this morning, Spirit pointed me to 2 Corinthians:
Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
I had two occasions this past week to be among former friends and colleagues where I received many blessings, and comments about having a “glowing radiance” and a “contagious joy” about myself…Friends asking “what’s in the Raleigh water?” I did not have to hesitate in my response. “Spirit," I exclaimed!
Spirit is rising in Raleigh, and especially at Community UCC. You are the water, you are the letter…and you were written on my heart even before I knew you.
May the Spirit continue to bind us together in love,
~Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas