Randy's Reflections
August 31, 2018, 4:52 PM

Pastor Randy's September Reflection

“Meriwether Lewis looked at miles and miles of snow-covered peaks and knew that to continue his journey he would have to change his entire approach.” How do you canoe mountains? You don’t.

           “If you want to continue forward you (need to) change. . . We ditch canoes, ask for help, find horses and cross the mountains. And when the time comes, we make new boats out of burnt trees.”

“This is the divine moment.” This is the opportunity to ask God to do what we can’t and follow the lead when we aren’t sure where it is going.


Excerpts above from Canoeing the Mountains


In the last two years we have welcomed over 25 new members to John Knox Presbyterian Church (JKPC). We have seen continual growth in our Vacation Bible School numbers, both attendees and volunteers. We have increased our budget, and our presence in the community is growing. By all indications we are a fairly healthy church.

Yet we also know that we are a “Destination Congregation.” That means people from several communities – Livermore, Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Dublin (sorry if I missed anyone) – attend JKPC. This makes our contact with each other outside of Sunday mornings a challenge. We don’t have as many opportunities to connect with each other
because we live in different communities and we grapple with different issues depending on the
community in which we live.

This reality creates special challenges. We are challenged to listen and speak with open hearts and compassionate words. We are given the opportunity to learn new names, make room for new friends, and find new ways to express our faith.

Our Session, the elected leaders of our congregation, is exploring new ways of living out our faith as a church. We are looking for new ways to connect with each other, new ways to learn from each other, and new ways to embrace the communities in which we worship, serve, and live.

We are currently reading a book called Canoeing the Mountains. It is written from the
perspective that a vibrant faith community today looks different than it did twenty years ago. We no longer all live within five miles of our church. We no longer have the discretionary time to spend three, two or even one full day with fellow believers. We don’t have a Wednesday night potluck, or a mid week study program or a weekly prayer meeting.

Most people have more obligations outside of the church than they do inside the church. Many families are working at least five and often six days a week and struggle to fit in the housework, yard work, grocery shopping and time with family or friends. There doesn’t seem to be time to attend church even a couple times a month, and more than twice a month is a bonus.

Does this mean we can’t be part of a church? Does this mean we must abandon our faith
community? Does this mean we have to connect with God all on our own? No, but it does mean we have to find new ways to celebrate God and our “church” family together. It means we need to figure out how we can participate in our life community, our faith community, and with our family in
balanced way.

Canoeing the Mountains examines the Lewis and Clark expedition, which sought to find a water passage from the Eastern part of the US to the Pacific Ocean. Their experience reminds us that
sometimes the way things were is not going to be the same way things are now. Two of the five vital lessons of this book are: 1) The world in front of you is nothing like the world behind you, and
2) Everybody will be changed in the process (especially the leader[s]).

This can be an overwhelming endeavor, but it can also be a fantastic opportunity. Please pray for the Session, and yourselves, as we explore this new territory. We may be trying some new things, so please be open to attempting something different. This can be an amazing journey, but we all need to choose whether or not we will “sign up” for this expedition.

Just remember, though the Lewis and Clark expedition didn’t find a water passage all the way across America, it did make a way, a path, a trail from one end to the other. So I believe God will help us negotiate the new challenges we will face this year and the years to come. I choose to go forward, how about you? Pastor Randy