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  • Writer's pictureRev. Liz Goodman

A June Update on the Building--and Open Letter from Liz

I write this open letter following an email I received from a member of the Monterey community at large, in touch to express incredulity that things had come to this--the building is under contract and there is so much that's unknown. I replied to that email, and thought it worth offering as an open letter to all.


I wrote that I too have been incredulous, and also full of grief and regret, anger and lonely sorrow--and, more recently, hope. 


I reiterated what I said at a meeting of the steering committee, which had developed of townspeople exploring the idea of buying the building. I said to them that the church would love for the building to continue in its public spirit, but that we couldn't make the church's, or the church's tenants, continued access to it our lode star. We had to find new stewards for this building, and it had to be soon, before small problems become big ones. Before we had another tea room on our hands, or another school building. Or a Pilgrim Church situation, in Pittsfield.


I also wrote that, amidst all that's unknown, it's worth staying open to the possibility that something good might happen. Even if it's not what we thought we wanted, it might yet be surprisingly good.


Departing now from that message, this recalled to my mind the two disciples on the road to Emmaus following the crucifixion. Cleopas and another disciple were walking along and joined by a stranger whom we know would turn out to be the Risen Christ. He asked them what they were talking about as they walked along, and they said they were talking about Jesus of Nazareth, who had been a prophet mighty in word and deed, and whom they had hoped would redeem Israel. They had thought they knew how all this would go. They'd had very specific hopes about how Jesus would function. And it turns out, they were wrong. 


Turns out, it was all so much better than they had thought, if also more challenging. 

I've been ruminating on this: are there any sadder words in the world than these: "But we had hoped..." "But we had thought..." ? I'm full to sometimes drowning in these very words--of regret, of dejection, of missed opportunities or missed connections or miscommunication.


But the story doesn't end with, "but we had hoped..." As we know, resurrection is about both hope lost and greater hope renewed. 


I encourage us all, on our own and together, to journey on this road of lost hope and greater hope.


In this spirit, I've been busy in the building. Cleaning out unused items we could have rid ourselves of years ago, finding new place for things we'll continue to treasure though might not be able to keep in the building, and renewing things we'll need whether we're settled as usual at 449 Main or we're nomadic, as the people of God have often been. 


The chairs that are sturdy and beautiful but have looked like they were left out in the rain since before I was installed here in 2001 are in "the shop." They're being refinished for our continued use. The communion ware, which we've had since 1890, is off at Chelsea Plating to be cleaned of its corrosion, "dipped" in nickel, and re-engraved as needed.


I've also been scouting out other places where we could meet for worship. The question is being settled as to whether, and/or when, we might need to vacate the building. Until we know that, it's perhaps helpful to know that we have other options--because we have some good neighbors. 


I'll also be meeting with our tenants to advise them on how to continue with their mission, whether in the building or beyond. 


This is hard work that we're doing. I am suffering it quite a lot, and I imagine you might be too. But there is also reason to hope. It is the reasoning of resurrection, so it can feel at odds with the world as we know it. But it is the logic, the logos, that has always generated the faithful in Christ as a new body amidst a world whose spirit can be summed up, "But we had hoped..." 


Please find in this message a renewal of your hope, which might not be what you'd thought it would look like, but can be good nonetheless.


Yours in Christ,

Liz

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