During the Indiana Conference Clergy Convo last month in Columbus, I saw something I have never seen before. Three different times during our worship services Mark Miller, who was playing keyboard and leading music for our services, stepped away from the keyboard in mid-song, and our own Jennifer Pollard, a deacon who serves at The Promise UMC in Fishers, stepped in – and they never missed a beat, a note, or even much change of style! When it happened the first time, I was not sure what I had seen and heard, but then it happened twice more! In each case, it was to allow Mark to step away from the keyboard and to participate in the baptism renewal, prayer time, and Holy Communion. Each time it was smooth, almost unnoticed by others in the room, and not accomplished for “show” but to allow worship to continue uninterrupted.

I am not a musician, so I really don’t quite understand how they did it, but it was certainly a smooth transition.

I have seen similar smooth transitions in local churches when one pastor leaves (retires, moves to a new appointment, or changes ministry) and the next appointed pastor arrives. Sometimes those transitions are not as smooth as they should be, but usually they are. Usually the clergy involved treat their predecessors and successors with respect, and usually the congregations graciously transfer their affection and loyalty from one pastor to another. It takes time, and it helps if everyone is spiritually mature about it, but usually it is a smooth transition.

Today is election day in the United States. If the political pundits are correct, many persons will be leaving office and others will be taking their places. Other leaders are simply finishing their terms and leaving office, and they too will be replaced.

I think that we in the U.S. take for granted these smooth transitions. Even after all the rancor of the political debates this fall (and aren’t you tired of those negative commercials?), still it will come down to the simple act of ordinary citizens voting. Some candidates will win, some will lose, but the country will move forward with a smooth transition. No armies in the streets, no military coups, no forced ejections from office. Just a smooth transition.
Maybe some politicians will grouse, complain, contest elections or ask for recounts. Maybe some others will believe that they were unfairly judged by the electorate. But in the end, the simple act of citizens voting will prevail.

I thank God for these smooth transitions.