I know, we’re not done until tomorrow.  And I’ll have stuff to share and work on after I’m back.  But our last case studies are being presented shortly.  And I can’t talk about content for reasons of confidentiality (what was shared stays within the group).  We have a nice dinner out tonight.  And we do communion and evaluations tomorrow.  And then we head home.  Where neither parish life nor family life has remained static in our absence.

Mind you, the case studies have been productive.  Hearing our peers address the kinds of things we’re dealing with gives perspectives and new ideas.  But what I’m thinking about now is the last chapter of Dueteronomy, which we heard at worship before lunch.  God is showing Moses the promised land, towards which he has been leading God’s people for most of his life, and which he will never enter.  That had to be hard:  to take the people to the brink, but never to enter the promised land.  And my thoughts were going a couple differnet directions.

First, that Moses went off after his vision, presumably alone, and died.  God buried him in an unknown and unmarked grave.  Which will probably speak to me in retirement, and probably should be speaking to me about leaving my work at St. Andrew’s in January.  But which more immediately resonates with a question I was asked, about seeing ideas I’ve been holding before the congregation for years picked up by someone else and be carried to fruition by them, and to be identified with them in their success.  Or, as has often happened, to have someone come back from a meeting somewhere, where they heard someone say something I’ve been saying for years, and bring it back as a new and exciting learning.  I think we’ve all been there.  And it’s probably healthy that we don’t so need to identify ourselves with our work that we need to be given the credit for what has finally come to happen.  I’m sure I’m building on the base of other’s work myslef.

I was also thinking that, in congregational life, we never do reach a promised land where we can rest.  We can pause.  But we are a people on a journey.  There never is, in this world anyway, a promised land where we can simply rest and stay and not move on.  God is always calling us to something new, something beyond whatever we may have envisioned.

I’m not sure that’s what any of us is looking for.  But to paraphrase words we heard elsewhere this morning:  God loves us very much just the way we are.  But God loves us far too much to let us remain the way we are forever.  To which I can only say, “Amen.”