Dear WUUC Community,

I’d like to share a Jewish parable with you:

A farmer lived in a small house with his wife, many children, and his aging parents. The house was always crowded, noisy, and often messy. The farmer could never seem to find a moment of peace and quiet; so he went to see the rabbi.

“Rabbi,” he said, “my house is full of noise and mess. I cannot get even a moment of peace!”

And the Rabbi told him, “Farmer, you should bring your chickens inside and let them live in the house with you.”

The farmer did this, but did not find peace. Instead, the noise and mess got worse. So he went back to the Rabbi.

“Rabbi,” said the farmer, “I have brought the chickens into the house to live with me and my family, but the noise and the mess have gotten worse, not better. What should I do?”

And the Rabbi told him, “Farmer, you should do the same with your goat as you did with your chickens. Bring it into the house and have it live inside with you.”

The farmer did this, but did not find peace. The goat was not just noisy and messy, but also destructive. So back to the Rabbi he went.

“Rabbi,” said the farmer, “I have done as you told me. The goat and the chickens all live in the house now. But now, the house is not just noisy and messy, things are getting broken. What should I do?”

And the Rabbi told him, “bring your cow into the house to live with you, your family, the goat, and the chickens.”

The farmer did as the Rabbi said, and brought the cow to live inside the house. But the farmer still did not find peace. Instead, the house was noisy and messy, things were getting broken, and it smelled like a barn. So off to the Rabbi he went again.

“Rabbi,” pleaded the farmer, “I don’t think I can take it anymore. I have done as you told me, and brought the chickens, the goat, and the cow to live inside the house with my family. But every time I have done what you said, conditions get worse, not better. I cannot take the noise, mess, and smell any longer!”

And the Rabbi replied, “Farmer, go home now and return the chickens to their coop, the goat to the barn, and the cow to the pasture.”

The farmer went home and did this. And suddenly, his house was so much quieter and less crowded. He felt a sense of peace wash over him.

– – –       – – –       – – –

I’m excited that we are on the verge of something great: being together again for worship.

And who would have thought that the prospect of simply going to church would be so exciting, or take so much time and energy to plan? Just 20 months ago, going to church was completely unremarkable. And now, the prospect of returning to our church building for worship services feels like a monumental task; and when we do it, we will celebrate it as a huge achievement.

We are going to do something that we have easily done before: we are going to return to in-person church. But like the parable, after a noisy, messy, destructive year and a half that really stunk, we are going to appreciate what we have with a renewed sense of gratitude. Enduring this pandemic has given us a new context, and a new lens through which to see our community.

Right now, most of my time, attention, and energy is going toward our reopening process. It seems strange to me that so much of my ministry right now is doing things my ministerial preparation never prepared me for.I’m looking forward to the peace on the other side of this transition, which is really a transition back to somewhere we’ve been before.

And, it won’t be just like it was before. We can take what we’ve learned (and dare I say, some of the things we liked) about our pandemic time (sweatpants all the time, less traffic/commuting, etc.), and keep them, even as we return to the things we miss from pre-pandemic times, like seeing each other in person.

We’re very close to taking a very big step. My hope is that we are back to in-person services (while retaining the option to attend virtually) by early December. There are just a couple more logistics to work out, but I assure you, we are working on them. In the meantime, just try to tolerate the goat, the cow, and the chickens a little longer. Soon enough, we’ll have our house back.

Peace and Blessings,