Pastor’s Pen          November 29, 2017

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.”

                           Psalm 16:6 New Revised Standard Version

The Internet was down at the parsonage over the Thanksgiving holiday. From the day before we broke bread and gave thanks, until the following Monday morning, nothing wireless came or went. In the five days we were off-line, I learned some things I hadn’t noticed. I didn’t realize how much I work from home until I had to walk to the church to send an email. Somehow sitting at the kitchen table to exchange emails or conduct research for an upcoming sermon hardly seems like work. I love what I do of course, yet I found myself engaging in longer and more meaningful conversations with my husband when they weren’t punctuated by the need to respond to something happening in the world. This was a true Thanksgiving gift, for which I am indeed grateful.

Since we spent more time listening to one another instead of engaging in a meaningful relationship with technology, we re-discovered the importance of maintaining boundaries to quality of life. Respecting our downtime at home, and creating safe space in which our relationship flourishes is important to the health of our marriage as it is to any relationship.

We’ve all been thinking about relationship boundaries a good deal lately, haven’t we? The news is flooded right now with testimonies of people who have suffered from sexual abuse or sexual harassment that has impacted their quality of life, peace of mind and in some cases professional advancement. When personal boundaries are violated, people and their communities get hurt.

As awful and as overwhelming as these stories have been, it seems that new and eventually pleasant boundaries are indeed forthcoming. We’re experiencing a swift sea-change response on the part of both men and women, as truth-telling leads to accountability, accountability leads to potential reconciliation, and reconciliation makes healing possible.

What once appears to have been normal and accepted abuse of power has been called out as hurtful and disrespectful. Personal and professional boundaries appear to be realigning, potentially creating a new culture of mutual respect and regard for one another as human persons. It’s too soon to know the outcome for sure. We’re likely to be in the thick of this for some time before the boundaries all shake out in new places. Yet our task is clear.

As people of faith we align our boundaries with those of our Creator, who made us whole and perfect and beautiful and called Creation good. We pray for the wisdom and courage to align our behavior with the intention of our God who asks us above all else, to love one another. Honor and cherish one another, treating one another with respect as God’s beloved own. May it be so, for us and for all.

Prayer: In this season of Advent now upon us, remind us of your path to hope, peace, love and joy, for our sake and to your glory. Amen.

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Anna V. Copeland