WHAT’S UP WITH STEVE’S HAIR?
You may have noticed, as you watch the weekly services, that my hair is getting rather long. In fact, it is longer than it has ever been in my life, and it is now longer than my wife’s hair. You may have wondered why. When the hair salons and barbershops were allowed to open for a brief time, I did not take the opportunity to at least get a trim. There is a good reason for it, but I need to explain.
When I was a pastor in Colorado, one of the things I looked forward to every year was our annual trip to Sonora, Mexico. We went with a ministry called Compañeros en Misión, based in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. This was a joint project between the PCUSA and The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico, designed to bring together churches in the United States and in Mexico to build relationships through projects that ranged from construction to Vacation Bible School. Through the week, we would share work, meals, worship and our lives with each other. These trips had a huge impact on the people who participated.
One of the people who had the biggest impact on my life was Dr. Jorge Pazos Aragon, the director of the Mexican side of the ministry. He is a medical doctor who heard God’s call to the ministry and left the easy life behind to spread the Good News of Jesus’ love. He is a man that I look up to for his passion for Christ and as an example to me of how to follow God’s call.
That brings me back to the hair. When we arrived for our sixth trip, to the city of Caborca, Dr. Pazos met us and something was different. His hair was down to his shoulders, which was very unusual for him. I made some joke about him going through a mid-life crisis, and he laughed. Then he told me that the reason for the long hair was that their Presbytery was going through a period of discernment and that he had taken a vow to not cut his hair until that time was over. The hair reminded him and all those in the Presbytery to be in prayer for the church. He made himself a walking reminder of what they were to be about during that time.
Fast forward to us. Shortly after it sunk in to me that this period of “exile” was not going to be just a few weeks, I realized that I could follow his example and use my hair as a sign of lament for our time of physical separation. So, I made a vow to not cut my hair until we could safely gather together and sing. That way, each week when we gather together for worship virtually, you will be reminded (I am reminded of it every day) to pray for our church family and for the community that God has called us to minister to. While I long for the day when we can re-gather, and I can get my hair cut, please join me in offering our lament for what we have lost and thanksgiving for God’s provision and presence in our lives during these long months. If you need a reminder, just look at my hair.
Pastor Steve Ranney