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What is pulling you beyond believing?

I’m writing to you, dear saints of the Pacific Northwest Conference, before sunrise in Iowa and a few days away from the longest night of the year for those living in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Rev. Jonna Jensen, acting conference minister

When my son was growing up, it was a night for candles.  We would gather all the candles in the house and light them on a big table.  We told our stories.  And we were quiet together.  And I don’t know why the smoke detector didn’t notice.

There may well have been other nights in other months this year that were the longest for you.  My heart is toward you as you recall them.

If candles are possible for you, I invite you to light them.  Candles have supported prayer and worship for a lot of years. 

They serve as little suns where there is no sunlight.  Even in a bright sanctuary, they invite us to ways of wonder and knowing that don’t depend on electricity.

There are six hymns in The New Century Hymnal in a section titled “Changing Seasons.” 

# 435 is actually a Christmas carol that William Gay and Annabeth McClelland Gay wrote in the context of the Vietnam War, “Each Winter As The Year Grows Older” 

I wonder if your congregation is singing it this winter. There are verses of prophetic anger and lament.  There are verses of faith and hope that rise from anger and lament. 

There is an affirmation of faith that believes “beyond believing.”

These days surely draw us in to believing “beyond believing.” 

There may be changes in your own life that have taken your faith beyond believing. There are surely transformations in our congregations that feel like Re-formation and pull us beyond believing. 

When we practice the spiritual discipline of Paying Attention to news from our own neighborhoods and from neighbors around the world, we persist in faithful responses to news that feels beyond belief.

If our congregations’ worship services include shared Affirmations of Faith that include  “I believe” or “we believe,” we might parenthetically add the words “beyond believing.”

In your daily prayers, dear saints, and as your congregations worship, may there be “assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)


Pacific Northwest United Church News © Winter 2023-24


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