Thursday, May 7, 2015

4000 Questions

   The first email that Tony sent me, after he was announced as the pastor projected to be appointed to Epworth UMC in June, made a reference to a list he'd been making. He said, "Scott, we are so excited about coming to Epworth! I only have about 4,000 questions, but I am trying to pace myself and finish my work here well." I laughed. I knew what he meant; moving is filled with unknowns. In that way, it mirrors life.
   Henri Nouwen, the prolific writer, thinker, and humble priest of the past century actually believed all of us go through life seeking answers to basic questions. It was Sister Chris, the friend I see for spiritual direction through the ministry of the sisters at Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat, that introduced me to some of Henri Nouwen's lesser-known work. I've since experienced the presence of God through Nouwen's devotional writings. I was touched the other day, with all of the questions of moving and life swirling around in my head and heart, when I came across these lines of Nouwen's:

What is truth? How may I find joy and happiness? What is the right way of living? .... What am I to do with my life? Whom shall I marry? Where shall I live? What gifts do I have to share? What do I do with my loneliness? Why am I so needy for affection, approval, or power? How can I overcome my fears, my shame, my addictions, and my sense of inadequacy or of failure?
For Nouwen, these are the very questions we are each seeking answers for in our respective journeys. And, greater than any silly details about how will my material belongings get moved from one place to another, or where will I lay my head on this night or that, these questions transcend every season I might pass through.
   I know we have a few weeks still to go, but I would be remiss if I did not take a moment here to say thank you to every person of Epworth, for helping me along my own journey in finding God's best answers to these questions in my life. These years have been a great blessing to the Hagans who've known Columbus as home.
   In case you are wondering, Tony reported back that after just one phone call with Earl Phillips and one with me, he'd checked 500 questions off his list! I thought that was a productive day for us all. I delight in imagining more of the great days ahead for this congregation and all those who serve her and are served by her. To God be the Glory.
   Grace and Peace to you, Scott

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