Looking back at Catherine's 6-years in ministry at 1st Church

What does it mean to be overwhelmed?

Rev. Catherine Nance (June 30, 2014)

When Catherine arrived at 1st United Methodist Church-Maryville, she had to write something for the June 30, 2014 edition of the Church Bell.   She will soon be doing a "farewell" letter for an upcoming newsletter, but for now we thought you might want to read what she had to say 6-years ago when she arrived at 1st Church. 

Overwhelmed! It is a word I do not like to use because it has negative connotations. I

suppose in my line of work I have only heard people use it when they are in the midst of a crisis. Overwhelmed means that there is so much before you that you are paralyzed with indecision about what to do next. Too much to take in. Too

many things to get done. Things you did not expect coming at you from all sides. Don’t know where to start. You know the meaning of the word.

If I ever do begin to feel that way (and I would never use that word), I stop, take a deep breath and make lists. Sometimes I make lists of the kinds of lists I need to make. I breathe in, pray through one of my favorite hymns, Breathe on me, breath of God; fill me with life anew ….

Folks have asked me “Are you overwhelmed, yet?” If we know that we are going to be overwhelmed, we can usually plan for it, and thus, not be overwhelmed. So, again, I don’t use that word. Sometimes people use the word incorrectly, such as, “I am overwhelmed by the number of commas she used in that last sentence.” (I’ll wait

while you count.) One would simply take notice, not be conquered or immobilized or swept away. I will have to admit that I was overwhelmed early Friday morning; overwhelmed in the most positive sense of the word. The sky was still a bit pink, the

morning was quiet, and I was sneaking into the office to unpack some boxes before anyone else got here. I stopped in the sanctuary and was overwhelmed. Overcome. Overpowered.

I could not do anything but stop, take a deep breath and begin to make a list of all that I was thankful for. But, I was too overwhelmed to make lists. The quiet and beauty of the sanctuary gave me the opportunity simply to be aware of God’s

presence and to feel thankful. I was overcome, overwhelmed, overpowered by thankfulness. Thankful for the people I have already met, thankful for the work that has been done to prepare for all three of your new clergy, thankful for Brenda and Larry and all the clergy who have served here and for the great history this church

has …. I could go on and on.

The stained glass on one side of the sanctuary tells the Gospel story; the other side reminds us of the great cloud of witnesses. What else could I feel but thanksgiving? God’s presence was so real and assuring and calming. Breathe on me breath of God; fill me with life anew that I may love what Thou dost love, and do what Thou

wouldst do.

Making lists, setting priorities, unpacking ….. that will all get done. Right now, I am just


With thanksgiving.