Greetings Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
What a warm and delightful welcome you have given my family and me in the midst of this wilderness season of wondering, wandering, and following our crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ’s example to turn back to God in prayer in times of temptation and trials, trusting your baptismal promise that God loves, forgives, and is with you and will once again, raise you from this death to new life in him! You are beloved!
As you enter this new season of discernment, I encourage you to:
- Take inventory of the gifts God has given you personally and in and through this life together as the body of Christ, called and known by God as St. Matthew.
- To unceasingly pray to God giving thanks to God for these gifts and asking for guidance and the willingness to follow Jesus.
- To continue to live generously out of God’s abundant generous love for you by sharing your gifts (time, talents, money, service) with your neighbor in all the many ways you have been giving and in all the ways God is calling you to give anew!
You have the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a servant-hearted council and staff who will keep you informed of the call process, which will include opportunities for your input, which they will communicate to you, in time. Every person is valued and matters to God and is needed in building up God’s kingdom of justice and peace, here on earth. How will you answer God’s call to help in this process?
Personally, I thank God for bringing us together in this interim season, even amidst the concern for my father’s health, and thank you for your continued prayers for him and our family. I, also, thank you for being you!
Who are you, as a body of believers taking up your cross and following our crucified and risen Lord, Jesus Christ?
This will be the question to ask yourselves, pray about, and discuss together. What is your history? What are your strengths? What are your connections within the congregation and out-side of the congregation (community, denomination, nation, and the world)? What is your mission and vision? What are your hopes for the next 3-5 years? How is God calling you forward into new life together by stretching and growing to serve all people through his unconditional love and grace, as demonstrated so clearly on the cross? What changes need to be made to live into God’s mission and vision for St. Matthew?
I can see why you might view yourselves as “warm and friendly,” as someone described you to me. That is something that can not be feigned, especially in the midst of grief and sadness over the loss of a beloved pastor. Feel free to share with me what you love about St Matthew, what you love about Pastor Ingrid, what you miss, what keeps you here, and what you hope for. I plan to schedule some deliberate office and coffee hour times that will make it more convenient for you to stop by and chat and pray with me. Look for the hours to be posted on the website and following newsletter. If you need anything or have concerns, don’t hesitate to let me know. Kim Bohley, our office manager, will know how to reach me and I will do my best to support you in this part of the journey. Feel free to, also, email me.
In closing, as you feel rushed this holiday season and find yourself longing to rush to call a new pastor, may this Advent season of waiting, reflecting, and trusting God to make all things new, working good out of bad for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28-39), cause you to pause and hope, united as one body, expecting the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 9:1-7) to ring in anew the coming of our Lord and Savior, the Word became flesh, the light of the world, Jesus Christ, to fill you with renewed faith, hope, peace, and love for your neighbor. May God bless and heal your broken heart, bind up your wounds (Psalm 147:3) and give you his grace and peace as God prepares you to be ready to call and welcome the next pastor at the end of this intentional interim season of healing, renewing, and working through the call process. In this season, I am here to love and serve you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.