Many of you will recognize “Taz", the “Tasmanian Devil”, from the old Warner Brothers Looney Toons cartoons. There’s a lot that can be said about the character, but the things I remember the most were that he could arrive in a whirlwind and eat almost anything in his path. Since I’m just a few weeks into my role as Good Shepherd’s pastor, it feels a bit like I’m running into Taz every day!
I doubt I’m alone, especially this time of the year. There’s a lot of “whirling” and “turning” going on. We have just marked the “turning” of the season, with the Autumnal Equinox. We have whirled from summer schedules into the school year (which may, or may not, be a good thing, depending on one’s perspective). We have moved from the one-service-Sunday-morning-schedule back to the two-service schedule (again, which may, or may not, be a good thing, depending on one’s perspective). And, then there’s the congregation’s getting accustomed to a new priest.
With all that in mind, I found it so appropriate that the first anthem of my time with y’all was an arrangement of “Simple Gifts”, the great Shaker song. If you don’t remember all of it, is contains the line “to turn, turn, will be our delight till by turning, turning we come round right”. The Shakers would dance to this song . . . and they would “turn, turn” in their dance — knowing that wherever they landed, they would “come round right”.
And, as I considered that hymn, I was reminded of another song (some of you may remember), Pete Seeger's 1950’s adaptation of Ecclesiastes 3.1-8: “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)” - made popular by The Byrds. The song begins:
“To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven.”
At Good Shepherd, there is a lot of “turning" right now! People are wondering what might change, what might stay the same. There’s anxiety over change — that’s pretty normal. But a time of chance — a season — offers all sorts of possibilities as well. There’s a sort of permission, perhaps even an expectation, to re-evaluate how things look or are done.
Thinking about this possibility of re-evaluation, another song wormed its way into my consciousness, this time much more current: Andy Grammar’s “Fresh Eyes”. While it is, as are many popular songs, a love song, the first verse seemed a suggestion of hope for the beginning of our time together:
I got these fresh eyes, never seen you before like this
My God, you're beautiful
It's like the first time when we open the door
Before we got used to usual
In the midst of our turning/whirling, can we look at Good Shepherd with “fresh eyes”? We have so much to offer! As I said in my first sermon, we have so many wonderful stories to tell! What might we see as we "turn, turn, turn” towards our future together that will spark our excitement so much that we will not only “come round right”, but it will truly be “in the valley of love and delight”!
PS: I have set up a Facebook page (@FaithnFedora) and a Twitter feed (@FaithFedora) — both of which are subtitled “A view from under the brim", should you be interested in following my ramblings and other items of note.