For the Living of These Days—A Word from Renee Purtlebaugh

This past week I feel like I have been basking in curiosity and the rich history of Highland in a new way. Perhaps it’s the uncertainty of the interim time and the inability to see into the future. Perhaps it’s the ebb and flow between that which is mundane and that which is frenetic in our daily lives. Perhaps it’s the unsettling state of the world in which we live. Perhaps it’s the reality that organizations and churches are closing their doors (having read just this morning that my own beloved seminary will close at the end of the academic year), and yet we have been on this corner faithfully doing the work of love for 125 years. And still we go on!

As I sat listening to the vivid, living history of Highland as shared by Phil Collier last Wednesday night, I was struck again by the vastness of our Highland story, God’s impact on the world through us, and the faithfulness of a congregation and pastoral leadership to weave together the ways our theology speaks into our daily life, and the ways our daily life shapes our theology. I was intrigued at the morsels of our past that paved the way for today. I’ve sat this week and felt, appropriately I think, the smallness of each person’s part in our story and yet simultaneously how vitally important that small part is. It’s not unlike standing at the edge of the ocean and feeling as if one is the tiniest of shells

But friends, oh how good this feeling is! I love being overwhelmed by that which gives me perspective and places me in the correct orientation of importance. I need to be reminded that my broken clothes dryer is not the end of the world even though it complicates the rhythms I’ve come to count on. My long to-do list is not my main priority when people are grieving and supporting those they love who are in need. The fullness or emptyness of my calendar does not determine my worth.

Instead, I wonder… am I marking my days with gratitude? Am I basking in the sounds of “loud love,” as Anne Lamott calls it, in the midst of a Fellowship Hall filled with kids and parents and women from our Jean Janes Mission Group participating in organized chaos as we assemble gift boxes for 4th grade boys in southwest and south central Kentucky? Am I centered and grounded in Christ’s peace rather than my own rough assembly of patterns and practices that provide it only temporarily? Am I seeing and supporting and encouraging my neighbor? Am I able to look out and place myself in that larger story of God’s work through God’s people, through us?

May we each this week be reminded of the vastness of God and the Love that keeps us bound together within a community that supports and encourages, as together we continue to trust that God is calling us even still to work toward a world where justice and Love are abundant.

For the last 125 years, I give thanks. For the next 125, may we be ever faithful.