Sign for the Times

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There are signs sprouting up around town. They say things like “Need Comfort’” and “Seek Joy,” and “Peaceful Place,” but perhaps the most important sign says, “Ask Questions.” For almost two years now the world has been turned upside down; the isolation and worry about COVID-19 have been wearying. Some people feel disconnected from their families, friends and their pre-pandemic lives; there is a sense of loss that has accompanied this disease that the world has not had to deal with since 1918. We are truly in unknown territory.

Photo by Dan Phelom
Pastor Denise Peterson of the West Suffield Congregational Church stands next to the church’s front parking lot with one of the signs inviting people to view her church as a comforting retreat in these troubled times.

I believe that churches are called to do different things in different settings; right now West Suffield Congregational Church seeks to be a place where people can come to find joy, peace, comfort and rest. God’s love has held this congregation together throughout the pandemic, and it continues to be our life force; but in times like these it is important for people to have a place where they can feel comfortable asking questions. “Where do you see God in all this mess?” “Why have I suffered so much?” or “Why is life so unfair?” I’ll be honest, some questions don’t have answers, sometimes the healing comes from just having someone listen, or having someone who will sit with you through your pain and not try to fix it with words and platitudes.

I want this church to be a place where people can feel comfortable coming in to talk and ask questions without worrying about being judged or “fixed.” As a pastor, I also love a good debate (everybody learns when there is open conversation).

So, the signs are to let you know we’re here, we would welcome your company, we wish you all good things; and if you have questions, please, ask them. You might not come away with perfect answers, but you will feel heard.

Thank you. Denise Peterson, pastor, questioner, and imperfect human being. My door is open.

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