Archive for September, 2010

Go where you are sent and …

Posted: September 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

Tomorrow, I will give my last sermon in my current church appointment.  The next Sunday, I’ll begin my ministry in a new church.

This past week, I’ve obviously had this on my mind and I’ve been thinking about all of those along the way who have helped me in ministry.  I’ve had people who have prayed for me, those who have listened, those who have offered advice and those who have shared in our common experience together.  If I didn’t have such an incredible group of clergy peers, I think ministry could easily become an even more overwhelming experience.

But this experience is a reminder of many of the things I’ve talked about before, but only now have started to experience.

  • Appointments have a beginning, a middle and an end.  There’s always a new start, always some place in the middle where we find out how this works and then there’s a place when you just know that the time has come to an end.
  • There are multiple churches involved in transitions.  At least two churches and sometimes a lot more are involved in the processing of a pastoral change.  Prayers, love, grace and mercy are still needed as much as ever.
  • Some relationships are ending; some are beginning.  A pastor (or pastors) are leaving a church assignment and that relationship is coming to a close.  A new pastor is coming in and there is the opportunity to build a new relationship.  It can be both scary and exciting.
  • There are different expectations for a pastor in church changes.  The saying that applies, especially for Methodist clergy who are appointed, is “Go where you are sent and stay away from where you have been.”  It’s a reminder that once you have been a pastor in a community of faith, you can’t unring that bell. You are always a pastor.  So, therefore, you have to be very careful about the ways in which you insert yourself back into that community of faith.  Therefore, any return to that particular church comes at the invitation of the church’s current pastor.

Still, this is an exciting time to be involved in ministry. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Navigating a season of change

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

“There is a time for everything,  and a season for every activity under heaven.” — Ecclesiastes 3:1

I can’t say that I really like the book of Ecclesiastes and I really don’t like to quote it, but sometimes it does have its place. I’m in a time of transition and it helps to remind myself that there are so many seasons that we go through.

There’s the excitement of a new and exciting challenge in front of me.  It’s a task that won’t be easy, but then again nothing in ministry ever really does seem easy.  And then there’s the relationships that I’ll be leaving behind to make a move.

There are more answers coming in terms of my hearing issues. I’m just having to be patient to wait on news.

Grace continues to grow on a daily basis.  Denise is leading a home renovation effort.

And as I take these new challenges, I know that more will come.  Things will change. God will remain constant, but my relationship with him is always moving forward.

That’s why I love the language that we use in a Methodist discussion of salvation.  It’s the thought that “We are being saved.” In other words, we (the church, the body of Christ) are on a journey toward the image of Christ.  It’s always changing, always moving and never dull.

It really means for us that there’s not some set moment that we look at and say, “That’s when I got my fire insurance.”  Instead, we live our lives out bringing the Kingdom of God to the earthly realm by all of the actions that we take.  We really do TRANSFORM this world one action at a time.

Sometimes I wish the ups and downs of ministry weren’t as pronounced as they are, but even they bring the promise of growth.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Comfortable Sounds of Silence

Posted: September 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

I was thinking today that it’s been awhile since I sat down and recorded my thoughts.  And I’ve done that purposefully.

I’ve needed some silence in my life, the chance to listen to what God’s saying and where God’s pointing.  Sometimes, the business of ministry and life in the church can get to be so loud that it drowns out the voice of Jesus.

This past week, my wife, Denise, and I attended the Bishop’s School of Ministry at Springmaid (Myrtle Beach) and I had a great moment of silence during the worship service. Rev. Susan Leonard-Ray was describing her baptism, of being old enough to remember what was happening to her and her sibling.  It was a reminder for me of my own baptism.  I remembered that water on me and seeing my small infant sister baptized as well.

And I had another moment of silence as I sat on the balcony of the hotel room and looked out at the water.  It was just the sound of waves crashing into the shore and I wondered if that was one of the ways that God writes music.  It’s the beautiful sound and beat of nature — waves of the sea, birds of the air, gentle breezes blowing in the forest, not-so-gentle winds whistling across rocks and canyons.  And I thought God’s an awesome songwriter — if we take the time to listen.

Another moment came earlier in the week while I was writing the sermon for Sunday.  It flowed out, in just a matter of minutes, and looking over it today I don’t see anything in it that I would change.  It was God speaking in me and through me in the sounds of silence.  How I love those moments.

All of them are reminders that when it gets to be too loud, I need silence.  Sweet, gentle silence and a chance to reconnect with the God who holds me close and loves me.

Thank you God for quiet moments and heart-filled reflections.