Reflections from Pastor Kim
Thanksgiving – one word, that we associate with one day or season. What if instead we considered Thanks Giving – more than one word, with a broader focus. Consider what it might look like if we made giving thanks a way of life? What if Thanks Giving became a culture not just of individuals, not just a faith family, but of an entire community? How does that change the greater community? How does that change the world?
November 1 we begin to move in just that direction! We will be working together to move into a culture of Thanks Giving; not focused on a day or season, but instead working together to change our lives and the lives of others, as we learn to live in a continual atmosphere of Thanks Giving. That will not be an overnight transition. It will not happen in a few months. This is a long-range endeavor to deepen our faith, strengthen our faith family, and reach our community with the love God calls us to cultivate and share.
We will work together with a common goal, with a plan laid out for next steps of which I’ve shared the basic structure below. During the October Administrative Board meeting, Oakland UMC leadership agreed to support the plan and work together with myself and you, to make a culture of Thanks Giving a reality. This is nothing that a pastor can do on their own, nor anything that appointed leadership alone can tackle. Each of you are an integral part of this process because you are an integral part of our faith family. It will take our realization that together we can have a more profound effect on our children, youth, elders, and everyone in between. Together we are able to have a larger and more significant impact on our local and greater community in faith building, mission, and ministry.
The next year of this endeavor has a name, 2022 - A Gift to Oakland. This is a plan that will be evaluated weekly by those who are in the midst of specific elements of the plan, and monthly by the Administrative Board. The plan has desired outcomes listed and dreams and realities mixed in with each step. Oakland UMC leadership is committed to being nimble and responsive to changing needs and situations, yet continuing to move forward. This is such a testament to the deep roots of faith and the willingness to petition the Holy Spirit for next steps of Oakland UMC.
How did this foundational plan come to be? I have been at Oakland for four months. No, not long, but the time has been full of learning! There have been many hours of listening to stories, reading church history, talking to leadership about who we are, where we are, and in what direction we feel God is calling us to move forward. There have been conversations with community members, unscientific core values polls, watching you all worship, communicate and be together. In the midst of this is also the realities of the last over eighteen months of unrest surrounding COVID, changing demographics, and the changing perception of faith and organized religion. So many things in the mix!! The most important though, is the consistent leading of the Holy Spirit.
I am so excited to be on this journey with you!! We will work together, learn together, grow together and worship together over the next years. There will be more to come. Always know that my door is open to your questions, ideas and inspirations. Let’s move forward to what God has for us that we have yet to imagine!
“FOR SURELY I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU, SAYS THE LORD, PLANS FOR YOUR WELFARE AND NOT FOR YOUR HARM, TO GIVE YOU A FUTURE WITH HOPE." JEREMIAH 29:11 NRSV
2022 - A Gift to Oakland
1. Create an atmosphere of thanksgiving
2. Develop a network of learning centered on the giving of time, talents and treasures
3. Oakland UMC becomes a community outreach hub.
Each of these are multi-faceted and our next few months are just the beginning. Let’s live in Thanks Giving EVERY day! See you on the journey!
Be blessed, be a blessing, and take someone with you on the journey! Pastor Kim
Reflections from Pastor Kim
This month we will spend some time in worship talking about healing and the impact that has on a positive move forward in relationship with God, ourselves, and others. If you don’t know this about me yet, you soon will. I’m not a big fan of reinventing the wheel! So when I read something that is better left in its original form than synopsized, I tend to let that happen whenever possible. I read the following excerpt from an article to be published in the Early UMC October newsletter.
We all have wounds. We all have scars. Physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual. So many injuries which are left to fester. Most often, because we are too busy taking care of others, or rushing to the next thing, to be able to take care of the pain caused by scar tissue which grows layer by layer. Even if we are very private people, there are ways to facilitate healing of all kinds in our lives. Never be afraid or embarrassed to seek out healing balms of life. They are life giving, and life affirming.
Below find a portion of the article by Cary Brown, Spiritual Director, and Administrative Assistant for Early UMC, Early, Iowa.
I love trees and their beauty in every season! The colors of fall is a no-brainer. That one is easy. God’s paintbox in the colors of the leaves is a wonder! Then those leaves let go and fall and leave the trees bare. The structures of the trees fascinate me. Some are straight and tall and strong and lift their arms high. But then there are the trees who have been injured, broken, or bent. They are the ones with holes in them or huge knotholes or unexpected bends and twists. They are the interesting ones! They have a beauty all of their own if we just stop and look and see the wonder.
When I see trees like that, I wonder what they have been through to end up like that…. Their ‘wounds’ are hidden by the leaves during most of the year but during winter, those ‘wounds’ end up showing their beauty. Just like us. Most of the time our ‘wounds’ and imperfections are hidden because we are ashamed of them. What we don’t get is that those ‘wounds’ and imperfections have a beauty all of their own.
How many people around us need to see and hear about our ‘wounds’ and imperfections in order to know they can make it through their own? Whether your story includes surviving abuse of any kind, or surviving cancer, or the death of a loved one, or a fire, or any other of a multitude of things, people need to hear from you that this can be survived! In fact, can even be a grace.
When we hide our ‘wounds’, we hide the wonder of who we are. We hide the grace we have to offer others to help them through their ‘wounds’. Jesus did not hide his wounds – he showed them to his friends and taught them the graces those wounds hold.
“The changing of leaves reminds us that new wonders are just around the corner.” When we are willing to let the leaves of our lives change and eventually fall, we let others see the wonders that are just around the corner. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it is uncomfortable. Jesus knows all about hurting and being uncomfortable – but, more than anything, he knows the wonder!!
This fall, look for the wonders – around you and inside you. Look for the wonders you can share with others as Jesus did.
Be blessed, be a blessing, and take someone with you on the journey!
Reflections from Pastor Kim
“…let the wise also hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill,… "
I am a lifetime learner. There has never been a time in my life that I can remember not wanting to know more about, well, anything! Now, this can be both a blessing and a curse. It means I know just enough about just about everything to be a bit dangerous. It also means that I have spent many nights in my life (still do) reading way too late into the night, which leaves me a little bleary eyed for the day to come. This need to continue to learn has included learning more about scripture, the Church, and my role in the midst of that.
One thing that fascinates me is to read scripture and then dig into the context of what was going on at the time it was written. Why was this story important to the people of the time. What was the original words in which it was written? Do they mean the same thing today? Did the story have an ulterior motive or is it clearly directed by God? So very many different things to dig into.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve found to do with knowledge is to relearn something. An example would be to dive into new knowledge and then discern how that effects what I already know to be true, then draw new and informed conclusions to add to the knowledge bank. The longer I’ve had the base knowledge, the harder it is to think of the topic or situation in a different light. Let’s think on the familiar Birth of Christ story. In our youth as we are building the foundation of our faith, all the events of the Birth of Christ happen in one night, right? That is, according to the annual Christmas pageant! When we begin to age and read scripture ourselves, what an onslaught of emotion there is when we realize that our Christmas pageant story actually comes from more than one story. Then as we get older and the realization hits that not all the Gospel writers felt the “Birth of Christ” was worthy of inclusion, but instead focused on the life and ministry of Christ, there’s another hiccup. At that point there is yet another gut punch to our faith, or at least a realization that we may need to dig deeper; learn more.
“An intelligent mind acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
What I’ve found to be particularly helpful in my journey of lifelong learning, is having people to bounce my thoughts off of as I wonder about what I’ve been learning. That includes colleagues, friends, small groups and educators in many different levels and genres. If I just lean on my own understanding, I miss the depth of meaning in nearly every topic known to man. When it comes to scripture, in my mind and life, it is essential to have those folks in my life who I can question, safely debate with, and in all things, learn together.
“Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still; teach the righteous and they
will gain in learning.”
How about you? How do you learn best? No matter what age you are as you read this, your faith can deepen. Whether you are young, middle-aged, or in your golden years, deepening your faith is still very important. How we read and understand the Living Word throughout our lives, is indeed the “Living” part of the Word. Our age, our experiences and our culture all plays a part in how we experience that Living Word. Though it is timeless, it speaks to the people of every age, in every age. All of us can use someone to bounce our learnings off of, to help us discern is we are hearing what we think we are hearing.
How are you working towards learning more about scripture? What about learning to deepen your faith? I’d love to have a chat with you about how we can work on those things together. Feel free to contact me at any time to dive a bit deeper or to chat about what tools I may be able to offer for your faith journey.
Above all – DON’T STOP LEARNING!
Be blessed, be a blessing, and take someone with you on the journey!
Reflections from Pastor Kim
Who are you? Who, who, who, who?
Who are you? Who, who, who, who?
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
These iconic lyrics were released by The Who on August 18, 1978. Some of us of a certain generation (ahem!) have memories of this song being released, and maybe even who we danced with Homecoming 1978 to this tune. Yet there is another generation who doesn’t attribute their memory of this song to an album, 8-track or cassette (gasp!). That generation remembers sitting down to watch a hip crime/police drama on or after September 23, 2002. From the TV set that song called folks from all corners of the house to watch the intro of that week’s show. They just HAD to see what zinger (even when it was corny) that Horatio Caine expressed as he slid those Ray Bans back on his face. Same song, same artists, different lens. Yet the song is known by millions.
There are similarities to our memories of songs, events, or people in the church, just as there are to the great pull of the secular world. We remember singing “Amazing Grace” at Hildebrand’s funeral, and doing a scavenger hunt during Youth Group our sophomore year. We remember a pastor who could make goose bumps jump onto the whole rooms arms as she sang “What Wondrous Love Is This”, and the nausea those same folks felt as another pastor surprised them with his original rendition of “When We All Get to Heaven.” Our memories are precious and remind us that we have a rich heritage which brought us to where we are today. Those memories also inform us of what and who we have been as this part of the Body of Christ known as Oakland UMC. What memories don’t inform us of is who we are now; in this minute, in this place, in the shelter of the Most High, discerning who calls us NOW.
So, who are we? This is a question we MUST ask ourselves repeatedly and continually. Hopefully at least part of the answer takes the following into consideration.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be
restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. You
are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp
puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In
the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give
glory to your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:13-16 NRSV
If the world shifts under our feet, either literally or figuratively, we have an obligation to work even harder to not loose our “saltiness.” When we’ve been hurt physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally, we have those around us who keep oil in the lamp and keep it high about the destruction to ensure it’s longevity. When we find that God’s call might look or sound different than it did even yesterday, we come together to figure out our place in the Body of Christ.
That’s where we are at, friends! We are in a place of exploration. Seeking God’s call on Oakland UMC in this time and place; to continue that exploration in the years to come. Just as God does not call us at the age of three in the same way as at eighty-three, God does not Oakland UMC in the same way today, as he did in the decades before. Over the last sixteen months or so the world has tilted. Regardless our viewpoint in anything which occurred during that time, today is different than this same date in 2019 or 2020.
So, who are we in the midst of, and in addition to this? That’s what we’ll be exploring in the weeks and months to come. What we know for sure is that we are part of the Family of God and the Body of Christ. Called to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples. Together we move forward to seek the movement and leading of the Holy Spirit in fulfilling this. We sing a song of praise familiar to our ears – it is the one we sing in response to God’s call to a new day, sung for the faithful. To God be the glory! Be blessed, be a blessing, and take someone on the journey with you!
Reflections from Pastor Kim
It’s that time in the life of the local church when things seem new. A new pastor often means a change in routines, scheduling, order, and more, instead of what has become familiar. Those new pastors bring new relationships and personalities to adjust to, and new names and faces to recognize in the community. Especially as United Methodists, this is a routine that we have lived through multiple times, and will continue to in the future. In the beginning of “new” we can often feel like we are lost in a wilderness, thrashing around in the underbrush until we reach a place of firm footing. For now though, what we are able to latch onto in that wilderness, is the faithfulness of God to provide for us.
“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
The Israelites are grumbling… again. It seems to be a continual litany (this might feel a bit familiar even today). Yet with patience – well, mostly – and a solid history of providing for God’s own people, this Isaiah text reminds them of who God is. God’s character, the things that they see God carry out, is what is to be recalled.
God is not asking the Israelites, nor us, to forget the history that brought them (us) to this place, but rather don’t dwell on it. This is about the things that God has done on this long journey that the Israelites have been on, both figuratively and literally, for generations, and God’s faithfulness to provide for the next leg of the journey. Every. Time. When they needed water, there was water. When they needed food, there was manna. When they needed to cross the sea to reach safety, there was dry land.
If we move farther in the chapter, we hear God reprimanding Israel for forgetting their God and turning to ungodly things, all of which grieved God greatly. Even some of their leaders didn’t take time to call on God, repent of their sins, give praise for God’s bounty, or seek God’s wisdom. And yet, God remains faithful.
This is not a scripture to guilt the peoples into God’s ways, but instead is a piece of a much larger story. A story which calls the people to remember what has been for its historical and faith significance. Yet, God calls them, and us, to know that with God a new definition of who we are, a new pathway, will become at least as, if not more, important to the story of God’s people, as that which has gone before.
So as we move into our time together, let us remember to repent of our sins, praise God, seek God’s wisdom and lift up in glory our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, together. For together, there are more to enfold each of us on this journey with grace, mercy and love as we do our best each day to carry out God’s will in Oakland and beyond, in the name of God our Provider, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit our Guide.
Be blessed, be a blessing, and take someone on the journey with you!
Pastor Kim’s Bio
What joy to anticipate joining you in ministry in Oakland! I look forward to what God has in store for us as we work together as the Body of Christ, the Church. As we move toward July 1 I will begin to learn just a bit about Oakland UMC from Pastor Carolyn and Martha. During that time I’d like you to get an inkling of who is coming to be your pastor, as well.
I grew up about 20 miles east of Independence, MO in the rural area surrounding the very small town of Napoleon, the oldest of three girls. I attended kindergarten through 12th grade at Wellington-Napoleon R-9 Schools. As a new graduate ready to take on the world I went to the big city to attend Rockhurst College in Kansas City for a year. At that point I realized that perhaps that was not the time of my life I needed to worry about academics, and instead spread my wings in the work force.
In my early twenties I met my husband Ron at Whiteman Air Force Base outside of Knob Noster, MO. After a time I followed him to his home community in Northwest Iowa and we settled in Varina, where we still have a home. Ron has one son, Dustan, who lives in Council Bluffs with his son, Syris. Together we have two children. Our oldest, Faith, who with her husband Kenneth, live in Varina with their three children Hope, JoyAnna and Gabriel. Our youngest, Michael, lives outside of Los Angeles, CA.
When asked if I’m a second career pastor, I will reply, “No, a 32nd career pastor!” Throughout the years I worked a multitude of jobs, always with a focus on people, but in a large variety of contexts. God certainly had a plan to grow me through a number of ways over the years. Looking back God was calling from an early age, but I was in my forties before I finally relented and moved from pew to pulpit. Since that time I have taken many classes and in 2019 completed Course of Study for Local Licensed Pastor. Being a lifelong learner this is not the end of learning, but rather a milestone achieved.
In my spare time I enjoy cooking and baking, am a beginning quilter, crafting, reading, knitting, and welcoming folks to our home. Two years ago, after about 30+ years of tent camping we bought a camper, and as much as we loved to camp before, that love has been multiplied! We especially love camping near water and just spending time unwinding.
As we move into Oakland, Ron will remain in Varina for his job in Storm Lake. We have been living in a two household scenario since 2016, and have found with technology and intentional time together on a regular basis, we seem to have more quality time together than when we lived in the same house every day and had varying schedules. We both hope that in the near future Ron will be able to relocate to Oakland as well, and we once again rely on God’s timing for that event. Also moving into the parsonage will be Dash, who is a one year old Golden Retriever. Dash is a COVID puppy and brought a bit of insanity to the parsonage as a distraction. He loves people and we spend time walking off all that puppy energy, so I’m sure we will see you around town.
I’m excited to get to know each of you as we come together in ministry. You are each being specifically prayed for as households and leaders of Oakland UMC and the community of Oakland. Might God add God’s blessing and power to our ministry!
Be blessed, be a blessing, and take someone on the journey with you!
Read Luke 24:1-35
Dear Friends in Christ,
A number of years ago, a big city zoo moved from its downtown location to a new
site where there was more room. Many of the animals gained larger areas in which to
roam. But the rhinoceros, a fairly dimwitted creature, had lived in a cage too long. Despite
the new expanses all around, it kept to its old boundaries, wearing away the grass to form
an oval path that was exactly the size of its former enclosure.
We who live in a secular society can easily be trapped into thinking that our world
of sight and touch is all there is. We are only interested in the "here and now": "You never
get a second chance to make a first impression." "A bird in the hand is worth two in the
bush." “The one who dies with the most toys wins” "The only things certain in life are
death and taxes."
This sort of world could not have anticipated Easter. With the dawning of the first
Easter Day, the world awoke to a completely new era. As dark and restless as the previous
day had been, Sunday dawned with a new light and a new peace. It was the light of
resurrection, shining from the empty tomb, which defeats darkness, evil, and death.
When Jesus rose from the dead, he gave reality a new dimension. Jesus' disciples
saw the world with new eyes because of Easter. That discovery gave them courage to take
the good news to the four corners of the world. They knew that when they risked
themselves for the sake of the gospel they were not alone. They were already living in the
freedom of God's kingdom.
Easter announces new possibilities. To those who feel caught in impossible
situations, Easter whispers hope. To those who are discouraged by the difficulty of
transforming society, Easter trumpets that evil and despair never have the last word. To
those who face death and separation, Easter speaks of life again.
When we place ourselves in the hands of the living God, we discover that the empty
tomb is our own. It has become an open door to new life. Can we grasp that amazing fact,
or are we, like the rhinoceros, caged by the limits of our own minds?
Make no mistake, without the Resurrection, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, “We
would, of all people, be most to be pitied for our faith would be futile and we would still be
dead in sin. But," Paul continues, "now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of
those who sleep." The world can never be the same. What more is there to be said?
Except, maybe, "Alleluia! He is risen! He is risen indeed!”
Dear members and friends of Oakland UMC,
By now you will have heard the news that I will be leaving Oakland in late June to return to my home conference, and that pastor Kim Dewey will be appointed to Oakland as your pastor as of July 1st. As is with the history and tradition of our denomination, changes in pastors happen.
During this difficult past year, as we faced the unexpected and unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, I have tried, and the lay leadership have tried, to do our best in leading in ways we never thought we never thought we would have to. Who knew in March of 2020 that a year later we would have a virtual presence and multiple services?
First with worship and sermon videos posted on the church Facebook page and YouTube channel, and now with Zoom worship, Oakland UMC now has an online video presence which serves the members of our congregation. But it also has an audience that reaches beyond Oakland, throughout the state, and even beyond Iowa. This is a good ministry, which I hope will continue.
Lions Park during the summer and fall provided a beautiful place for in-person worship for those who felt safer worshipping together outside.
Worship in our church building, while I lead worship in the park and now, virtual worship via zoom, has led to lay people to step up to the challenge and develop their gifts for leading worship. Now we have an entirely lay-led worship service that involves both youth and adults in leadership. I celebrate and affirm this development of lay leadership in worship and hope that it continues. I believe it will prove valuable as Pastor Kim begins her ministry here.
This past year has been filled with uncertainty and anxiety for our church, our families, our
communities, our businesses, our schools, our health. Just like in our communities and our country, discerning a path for our church has brought together various and even apposing ways of getting there. What has remained, however, is the one true reason we are a church, belief the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
In the midst of this time of transition, as I prepare to move on to another appointment, I pray for all of you and for Pastor Kim and her husband as they prepare for their move from Aurelia to Oakland. And I ask for your prayers as David and I prepare for our move back to the Pacific Northwest.
My last Sunday preaching and leading worship will be June 6th. During the remainder of June, David and I will be finishing up our packing and preparations for moving so that the parsonage can be ready for Pastor Kim and her husband by July 1st.
I commit to being the best pastor I can be for this congregation until I leave at the end of June.
Read Psalm 139
Dear Friends in Christ,
The season of Lent is here once again here. Lent is the forty days of preparation leading up to Easter. This year it began on Wednesday, February 17th. Lent looks towards God's act in the cross and the resurrection. It is an opportunity to move within the shadows of the Cross and let our hearts be renewed by God's love and forgiveness. The 40 days of Lent offer us an opportunity for a period of intentional, focused engagement with God, and an opportunity for us take a personal and spiritual inventory.
Our worship series this year is “Holy Vessels.” Each week focuses on a different healing story from the gospels, and the different ways each of us, and our world, may need to experience healing. Each of us is created a precious and holy vessel of embodied love. Yet, we have been through a harrowing time since last Lent; a time that has shattered our sense of wholeness–body, mind, and spirit–like a glass vessel fractured into pieces. Still, our faith affirms that God can gather up our broken pieces and transform our brokenness into beauty.
One symbol of God’s power to transform brokenness into beauty is sea glass, or beach glass. An unknown author has said this about the glass fragments that are collected on various shores:
“Ordinary pieces of tableware or beer or soda bottles are flung into the ocean. Years pass, or decades, and then one day, there it is upon the shore: a small shard from one of those long ago discarded objects. Shifting currents have rounded its edges; abrasion has polished its surface; exposure to the sun has altered its hue. And so, when we happen upon it, here amidst the shells and seaweed, we can’t help but laugh with joy at what seems a miracle: this ordinary fragment of silica that time and adversity have transformed into something beautiful.”
Time and adversity… making something beautiful out of that which, once seen as ordinary and broken, is now considered a transformed and precious piece. This is the journey we undertake this season of Lent. Jesus attended to those considered ordinary, broken, even those deemed unworthy.
Each of you should have received a Lenten devotional book to go along with our worship series. So, during the days that lie ahead, I invite you to take a few moments each day to use that devotional material examine the broken places in your life that might need Christ’s healing touch. And when you find them, to look at them with the same eyes of compassion that God sees them, and then offer them up to God’s healing grace, remembering that no matter what, Jesus is both the healer and the lover of our souls.
May you have a blessed and holy Lent.
Dear Friends in Christ,
As I considered what to write for this newsletter article, so many things swirled through my mind because so much has happened since I wrote my last article a month ago.
On January 19th, just one year almost to the day when the US reported its first case of COVID19, we reached 400,000 deaths from the virus, which is still raging and still killing, in this country and around the world.
On January 6th, I watched with much of the nation, in shock, horror and grief as a mob of hundreds of rioters – their anger stoked and their actions encouraged by our former president and other national leaders – storm and vandalize our nation’s Capitol Building in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from certifying an election that the rioters believed was somehow stolen from them.
As a Christian, what made their actions even more hurtful to me and to many people of faith was that many of these rioters carried signs proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ, even as their words and actions were completely opposite and hostile to everything Jesus taught and lived.
Then, just two weeks after that day, in a locked down capital city under an unprecedented level of security, Joe Biden was sworn in as our nation’s 46th president, and Kamala Harris was sworn in as his vice-president, the first woman and person of color and Asian descent to hold that position, and for me, with this administration comes renewed hope for our future.
The speech Biden gave at his inauguration, indeed, the whole theme of the ceremony, “America United,” was an appeal to all Americans to regain our sense of being one nation and one people; to begin to gather up the broken pieces, of our national unity and start working to put them back together, because it is only in unity that we can prevail against the many challenges we now face.
In his inaugural address, Joe Biden pledged to be a president for all Americans, those who didn’t vote for him as much as for those who did.
Echoing Lincoln when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Biden promised to put “his whole soul” into the task of bringing Americans together once again.
The inauguration ceremony included moving performances by several top stars, but for me, the highlight was Amanda Gorman, 22-year-old Los Angeles resident, youth poet laureate of Los Angeles, first national youth poet laureate and Harvard graduate, who was invited to speak at the event by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who had previously seen her do a reading at the Library of Congress.
Her poem spoke eloquently of the challenges we face as a nation and also of the unity that helps us overcome them. Below is a link to hear her deliver her poem at the inauguration.
(4) Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman delivers a poem at Joe Biden's inauguration - YouTube
And here is the text of Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” in full.
When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.
Blessings, Pastor Carolyn
Pastor Kim Dewey