These recent weeks have seen our fourth school year to begin here in Pennsylvania. Just looking back at the pictures of my sons – it is so difficult to believe that they were only two that first summer when we started here so many moons ago. 

And now, here we find ourselves at the beginning of a wonderful new year, which also means yet another great opportunity for all of us to find the ways and places we need to begin again.

I don’t know about you, but when my kids go back to school, part of me wants to take full advantage of the routine and do every single thing I’ve missed doing. From exercise to reading more books, there are countless options that I can add to my own personal list, and I’m quite certain you each have your own set. 

However, what I might suggest instead this year is taking the time to choose only two or three things at most that will be your focus (probably preaching to myself here). And within those, may I highly recommend that all of us are likely in need of a faith checkup.

Please do not panic! This isn’t one of those moments where the church says, “well, if you don’t believe like this then… [insert bad thing here].” Nor is it a time for me to come by and see how much of your Bible you are reading every day, because believe it or not, that’s not the litmus test, either.

Faith is about something much deeper. It’s about our connection to God on that extremely basic, very raw level. The one that holds tight when everything else falls away. That is the connection cable that we need to strengthen. 

We do this in a few important ways. One is to take time to be alone with God. Perhaps for you this may mean pouring your heart out in prayer. For me though, I figure God already knows all that. So, I focus my time around learning to listen. I do my best to meditate either in silence or around a single phrase from Scripture to help still my mind.

Second thing is study. Learn. Pursue knowledge wherever you can. Be it directly related to Scripture or not, I am convinced that all roads lead home. All of our education helps us to better understand ourselves, our world, and the wondrous Love that created it all.

Third, and perhaps the most important: you cannot do this alone. You need a community to love you. To welcome you. To accept you as you are. And to walk with you as you continue in your becoming, so that you can welcome, accept, and walk with others. This is what church is meant to be. It is what it strives to be on its very best days. (And note to the church here: this is our job.)

So, from this always learning cleric who is still finding her way in this life, this is my best wisdom to you: take time. Study hard. Find family.

And if you are ever looking for a family who will love you just as you are – we have a seat just waiting with your name on it.

Blessings, Pastor Janie

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