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You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)
          The first time that Debbie and I flew together as a couple was early on a Monday morning from the Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport - the major (only) transportation hub for the Southern Tier. There was no hassle finding the departure gate as there was only one gate. We were the first ones there and were a little surprised when we weren’t given a seat assignment. The waiting area soon filled with business travelers making their connection to larger airports. When the flight was called there was a stampede to the gate, so much for first come first served. We soon discovered why these seasoned travelers were so anxious to be first to board.
          The plane was a propeller driven puddle jumper with a single line of seats down each side of the fuselage. When we boarded the only seats left were at the very back of plane. It was a little unnerving to be able to look down the aisle and see the pilot and co-pilot doing their preflight check, not even protected by a curtain. Our minds were set at ease when we recognized the pilot, a retired Air Force pilot, as one of the members of our congregation. As the plane moved down the runway and began to gain altitude, I noticed the change in cabin pressure. This was Debbie’s first commercial flight and she was a bit concerned about turbulence. We soon started banking on the flight to Pittsburgh. I felt movement between my feet and looked down to see a number of steel rods that appeared from under the seat in front and continued under our seats. Curious, I kicked at them. Soon the co-pilot appeared and politely asked me not to do that as the rods controlled the flaps on the tail. I complied but it was not reassuring to know the movement of my feet impacted the pilot’s control of the plane. When we arrived safely at our destination the complexion of one of us was paler (and greener) than when we began. 
          Life can be like that plane ride, with unexpected events, surprises, and change. These events are the “turbulence” we encounter in our lives. It is comforting to know that despite the turbulence, God is always with us, in the center of every circumstance, and provides the peace that surpasses all understanding. 
          During the coming months, our congregation will experience a bit of turbulence as we undergo some staffing changes. Rev. Walz will be retiring at the end of December and Janet Brooks and I will retire in June. We are pleased to announce that the Rev. Jeff Hodge will become our quarter-time Pastor for Congregational Care beginning January 1, 2018. The fact that Debbie and I knew the pilot of our plane was reassuring. He was a trusted leader in our congregation and we trusted his competence to fly. While we may think of Baldwinsville First UMC as “our church’ it is first and foremost God’s Church. God has led and directed us in the past, brought us to this time, and will continue to guide us into the future. When we draw close to God and ask for help, we can be reminded that Christ is always with us, “to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).  In grace and peace,  Larry Lundgren