From the publisher | July 1, 2021

Coming and going

People walking on a busy city street
Photo by Mauro Mora on

The July/August print issue of Messenger has something unusual: When you turn the magazine upside down and backwards, you’ll find the Church of the Brethren annual report right-side up.

Since we’ve never done this before, our printer helpfully provided a template for the designer to use when preparing the files for production—so the Messenger pages go one direction and the annual report pages go the other. The template has a name, and that’s how we learned that this arrangement is called a “coming and going” project—which sounds a lot better than the paragraph of words (and hand motions) that I was using to describe the concept to others.

I’m captivated by the name for this printing idea. Coming and going conveys a bustle of activity, which is true for the Church of the Brethren even in a year when literal coming and going came to a standstill. Reinventing so many things had people coming and going all the time, though some of that was mainly clicking from one Zoom session to another. Even the harried expression “I don’t know whether I’m coming or going” seems about right, at least for those days when time seemed to warp and we had to think twice to figure out what day it was.

Mostly the term refers to the appealing busyness of everyday life, as in, “I like to sit in the coffee shop and watch the coming and going of all the people.” Who knew how much we would come to value all the ordinary things in our quotidian lives.

Whether ordinary or extraordinary, those moments belong to the God who guards our lives, whether we are coming or going. In the words of the psalmist:

The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore

Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press and communications for the Church of the Brethren.