As I write this, I am remembering these words from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest;
A time to kill, a time to heal; a time to tear down, a time to build up;
A time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance;
A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up;
A time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance;
A time to search, a time to give up as lost; a time to keep, a time to throw out;
A time to tear apart, a time to bind together; a time to be quiet, a time to speak up;
A time to love, a time to hate; a time to go to war, a time to make peace.
During our two plus years together, we have probably experienced almost everything on the list. I remember the worship, weddings, funerals, retreats, Lenten studies, Advent services, singing, praying, preaching, fellowship, and friendship. There was some tearing down of old ideas and planting of new ideas, some disagreements and some resolutions, some remembering and some forgiving,
We have laughed and cried, mourned and danced and ate way too many desserts and breakfast casseroles. But never too much cake! We have said goodbye to beloved members who have left or went onto the church triumphant, and we have welcomed new people as well.
While this is not how I planned to leave, I have always believed that a pastor is called to a particular place, for a particular time, with a particular purpose to a particular group of people in a particular community. And my particular call to PCLT has now come to an end. We may have not accomplished everything that I had hoped for; yet still much was accomplished. There is still more work to be done, for you as a community and for me as a pastor, albeit no longer together.
Mary Lindberg says (from The Graceful Exit), “So we’ll open the gifts Jesus gave us—a home in him, the courage to move on, the peace that will get us through many unknowns. And we’ll trust that God is staying with those we love for many more seasons.”
Because of our time together, you will always be a part of me and I will always be a part of you. Thank you for the times you have shown me patience, kindness, mercy, grace, generosity and love. You are a great group of people and I wish you all the best as you discern the best way forward.
May you continue to grow in faith, hope and love, worshipping the Lord with your whole heart, mind, body and soul and remember to do everything for the glory of God!
With you in God’s grace,