The Space Between: Paradox!

“Before you cross the street, take my hand. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

— John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy”


Tom McDermott_Sq 500The past 5 weeks have been a blur for me. Perhaps they have been for you as well. Charles Gaby announced he was resigning from First UMC, and the following weeks were a flurry of re-directed energy, 11:11 community conversations, emotional worship services and a deeply moving “farewell.”

As I write this this afternoon, it is now May 1. It is the official first day of my life as a full-time minister on staff at First UMC and the new leader and lead preacher for the 11:11 celebration community. I suppose it’s fitting that today is May Day — a traditional celebration of Spring, celebrating new life and new beginnings. It occurred to me this is also the word used for the International Distress call:  “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!”

I feel like I’m bouncing back and forth between these two meanings. I am overjoyed to lead and worship with the impassioned and inquisitive people who make up the 11:11 celebration faith community. I am also a little overwhelmed by the suddenness of this move and the responsibilities being entrusted to me — “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!”

John Lennon was right. Life is full of the unexpected. It is paradoxical and tends to happen in spite of what we’re planning. I think it’s interesting, though, that most people just remember that second line of the lyric above. It’s the first line that really gives the quote its substance and meaning. It’s as if Lennon was saying, “We need to take each other’s hands and do this thing together, because it’s gonna get crazy!”

This Sunday I begin a sermon series entitled, “Know Yourself, Forget Yourself: Finding Joy in a Life of Paradox.” I believe God is ever present in that space between us, that space between what we plan and what happens, that space between what we celebrate and what we fear. The Psalmist wrote, “God spreads a feast before us, even in the midst of our adversity — in the midst of our confusion, anger, fear and doubt.”

A little letting go may have to happen, as well as a little holding on — but the feast is always there. I hope to see you Sunday as we explore this feast set before us!





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