God’s Presence in Times of Change

United Presbyterian Church of Atlantic

Last month I flew to Iowa to conduct the funeral for longtime Knox member Dot Turnbull. I joined her four adult children and a host of other family members in giving thanks for Dot’s life and her 37 years of mission work in Egypt and Thailand. At the United Presbyterian Church of Atlantic where Dot grew up, we recalled the promise of the resurrection, and the ongoing work of Christ in the world. During a time of sharing after the service, family, co-workers, and congregation members shared grief at Dot’s passing, and gratitude for how God had impacted their lives through her.

Dot Turnbull

As I near my twentieth year of ordained ministry, I find events like that memorial service one of the best parts of being a pastor. It is a great privilege to accompany people through major life transitions, and attend along with them to the presence and promises of God in such times.

Asher Hofmann 2014

I find it a similar kind of blessing when I get to meet and pray with parents just after they have welcomed a little one into the world, or as they prepare to have a child baptized. I delight in events like confirmation Sunday this past May, offering praise to God as young people transition from childhood to adulthood before our eyes. I love meeting with couples as they prepare to make marriage vows, and with inquirers as they consider bold decisions about faith and community commitments. And I find it is a rare and precious thing when I am able to meet with someone in a home or a hospital room as they approach their final hours. There is something about the presence of God that is especially evident and compelling in times of change. God seems to show up in powerful ways, promising to be our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer (Psalm 18:2).

There are a number of changes afoot today that impact Knox and its members. Fuller Theological Seminary is preparing to move to Pomona. The Presbyterian denomination is in the midst of charting a new “Way Forward.” Our country is undergoing significant cultural and political shifts and divisions. The City of Pasadena is experiencing both economic growth, and an increasingly formidable cost of living. As Knox negotiates these and other transitions, the degree of change can feel overwhelming. As a pastor, however, I see too a blessed opportunity: the chance to attend alongside others to the presence and promises of God. Thanks be to the One who is with us and leads us forward in precisely such times.

Pastor Matt

New Members May 2018, Left to right: Amira and William Gass, Susan Chesney, Tiffany and Justin Kaderka.




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