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

Two weeks ago, I traveled to Chicago for a day-long conference with Traci Smith, pastor of Elmhurst Presbyterian Church and an author/advocate for family faith formation with a bent toward how that formation happens at home. Traci’s approach to faith formation as a family is based in thoughtfulness, intentionality and most importantly, a refreshing simplicity.

In contrast, the world seems more anxious and complicated than ever this week. We passed the peace in worship without handshakes. Members shared about Costco shelves being empty of toilet paper Saturday as they shopped. New words are in our everyday vocabulary—coronavirus and COVID-19 primarily. I keep asking myself, what does it mean to live in these days as people of faith?

Last week, I had opportunity to travel to Knoxville to gather with a peer learning group of fellow ministers valuing ministry to families  and children from around the country. It was a time of renewal and support, sharing of ideas and looking to the future, laughter around the table and a reminder of the presence of the Church in the world beyond our corner at Grinstead and Cherokee. Good news—we are not the only hands and feet that God works through each day!

This week, my feet are back in Louisville with you. And I can’t think of any place I’d rather be as we face the uncertainty of the world  together and find our particular place and role in it as a community of faith. I carry back with me a longing for simplicity wherever it is possible, making paths in the wilderness where there are none or few. I carry back the stories of other congregations doing good and faithful work, reminded that we aren’t alone as we walk with hope toward promised lands. And I carry with me simple prayers of faith like this one that remind me to pause and breathe when overwhelm inevitably attempts to root itself in my spirit. As Lent continues to unfold with an unveiling of how interconnected our world really is, may we daily find moments with God to still our bodies and souls.

Be still my heart.
Be still.
Be still my mind.
Be still.
Be still my feet. Be still my hands.
Be still, be still, be still.
~ Tired or Anxious by Traci Smith, Prayers for Faithful Families