Disruption and reorientation – A message from District Bishop Lester Priebbenow
Another disruption! Victorian lockdown 5.0!
I don’t know exactly what you had planned to do this week, but I imagine that what you are doing may be quite different from what you planned.
For many of you, I assume there was a mad scramble to reorientate and readjust your plans so you could continue work with some sort of semblance and order. One can only imagine what many congregations and pastors are facing as we seek to reorientate and adjust to another major disruption.
I have you in my thoughts and prayers, not just for the practical or technical challenges you face, but for the personal sense of disruption and disorientation that also leaves pastors physically separated from their flock, and the flock from its pastor. I think of the words of last Sunday’s Gospel, where Mark said that the people were ‘like sheep without a shepherd’ (Mark 6:34). Matthew adds the words, ‘harassed and helpless’ to describe them (Matt 9:36). There is no doubt that the disruption and separation of another lockdown can leave us all feeling ‘harassed and helpless.’
Last Thursday, our District Office devotion explored a common pattern of orientation, disorientation and reorientation, which occurs when sudden, major events disrupt the expected order of things in our lives. The author recalled how Bible scholar Walther Brueggemann had observed this pattern both in the grouping of the psalms and in individual psalms.
His example was Psalm 27 which David opens with a positive orientation (verses 1-3), beginning with the words, ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?’ David then describes the disorientation brought about by the disruptions, dangers and difficulties in his life (verses 4-12). Yet as he reflects, prays and worships his way through those disruptions, God renews his confidence amid them. There is a reorientation to the confidence with which he began the psalm, concluding with the words, ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord’ (verses 13-14).
Another favourite psalm of mine that follows this pattern is Psalm 73.
As I pray for you throughout this time of disorientation, I pray that your meditation on the greatness, goodness and grace of your God will help reorientate you to, ‘be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord’ (Psalm 27:14).
Allow yourselves to be pastored by the words of Psalm 23 that you heard – albeit electronically – on Sunday. Be reassured by the words of Ephesians 2, that we are ‘brought near’ to the hope and promises of God through the blood of Christ, ‘for he himself is our peace’ (Eph 2:14) and ‘our righteousness’ (Jer 23:6).
In His Peace,
Pastor Lester Priebbenow
District Bishop – LCA Victoria and Tasmania
[This message is adapted from a message sent to Pastors on Friday 16th July]