The Rev. Joanne Tetrault
Dear People of St. Matthias –
As we prepare to enter into the holy season of Lent, I was interested to learn that our modern word “lent” comes from the AngloSaxon word “lencton,” which refers to springtime – when the days become longer, warmer and brighter, and new growth begins to emerge all around. We typically think of Lent as a subdued time – when we follow along in the darkest time in Jesus’s life; when we are asked to consider what areas of our own lives we might “turn around” (this is what “repent” really means); and when many folks commonly impose some sort of self-denial (giving up chocolate or alcoholic beverages, for example). I think it is important to note the opposing perspectives here: That we may think of Lent as a subdued, or even a dark time (which our weather often reinforces), a time that culminates in the passion and death of Jesus. And that its root word points to a warmer and brighter future, full of the promise of growth. This shows us, as we discover along the way, that there are so many opposing perspectives or paradoxes to deal with in life, especially in our spiritual life.
And so I imagine it may be this way as I enter into service as your priest-in-charge starting on Ash Wednesday. There may be some mixed feelings around this change, as there naturally are with any change. I am coming in at the end of the tenure of the beloved Rev. Ann Copp. Perhaps when the announcement of her retirement and my pending arrival was made, it came as a surprise to some of you, and that kind of surprise is not always welcome! It seems to be our human nature to dislike change. Yet recognizing that change is inevitable and responding to it in ways that help us to re-establish our footing and our futures is healthy.
I feel a bit of paradox, too, on a personal and vocational level. I bring along life experience and experience working outside of the church (mainly in publishing and medical education). I have been fortunate to have internships in a number of local churches both big and small. I have a particular interest in the ministry of grief support and pastoral care, and have trained as a chaplain. Still, I am a new priest (ordained in September), and as such I wear my role as your new leader with humility and a desire to learn from you and grow with you. Ours, I hope, will be a mutual ministry. Any mutually healthy relationship begins with knowing one another. So one of the first tasks I’ve set out for myself as your priest-in-charge is to get to know each one of you personally. I want to spend time with you in whatever way is comfortable for you. Would you like to meet for coffee or lunch? Would you like to come chat with me at the church office? Would you like me to come to your home? Go for a walk? Think about it and let me know. I’ll be contacting each of you during my first months so that we can arrange some time together, one-on-one.
Finally, I hope the time you have had to say farewell to Ann+ has been positive and fulfilling. Please know Ann+ will always be welcome at St. Matthias. That will not change. Also please know how much I’ve appreciated your kind words of welcome and encouragement. I look forward to beginning this time in our lives together, and I believe starting on the first day of Lent holds great promise. We are a resurrection people, so let’s enter in with reverence for the season and with anticipation and hope for what is to come.
In peace, Joanne+