So by the time you read this, the four-year anniversary of my being called as pastor of St. Luke’s will have passed (I began working here June 1, 2012). Sometimes it seems like I just got here, and sometimes it feels like I have been here a very long time.
There have been a lot of very fun times during these four years. There have also been some anything but fun times. There have been emotional times, troubling times, healthy times, unhealthy times. Times when things went great, and times when things went pretty awful.
In other words, these past four years have been pretty normal. Like any four years of life, full of ups and downs, highs and lows, blessings and curses, life and death. There have been hellos and good-byes. There have been baptisms and funerals. There have been laughs and there have been tears.
Four years –a lot can happen in four years. Things can change dramatically. Things can be new, things can end. Some things remain forever the same. There is repetition, and there is transition. Traditions are maintained, strengthened, and celebrated. Some traditions are left behind, as new traditions arise.
We grow, we age, we become ever new and we remain always the same. We are who we were, and we become who we will yet be.
One things we are not is stagnant. Life flows even onward, and we must go along on that journey to wherever it might take us.
But for all the variety, all the change, all the what once was and all the what will yet be, for all the things that have happened, one thing remains eternally constant and unchanging –the God we worship.
Through our good times and bad, God is always with us. As we struggle and as we triumph, God remains constantly with us. As we journey on, God journeys with us. The one constant in our lives, the one thing we can always be sure of, the one thing we can know beyond any doubt, is the love of God made personal and real and eternal for each one of us in Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The love of Jesus never fails us, never leaves us, and never forsakes us. For all that we change, the love of God in Jesus stays the same. For all our ups and downs, the love of God in Jesus remains our constant source of strength, peace, and hope. Whatever we face, we face with Jesus. Whatever we risk, we risk with Jesus. Whatever we do, we do with Jesus.
In these four years, I have learned much, I have felt much, I have experienced much. I have been blessed in so many ways, and I hope I have occasionally been a small blessing to others. I know, more than I know anything else, that God is leading me in this place, God is blessing me in this place, and God is loving me in this place. And I know just as well, that God is leading you, blessing you, and loving you in this place, as well. We walk this walk together, as God’s people. We are called by God to do His work in this place. We are being sent by God to bring blessing, and to be blessing, to one another, to our community, and to the whole world.
Four years in this place, and I pray God will bless me with many more years in this same place. I have much to learn, and hopefully something to give. For now, I want to say, thank you, and I want to say, I am sorry. Thank you for all you have given me, thank you that I can be here with you, thank you for the blessing this place has been to me. Sorry for all the ways I have fallen short, all the ways sin has interfered with our work, and all the ways I have been inadequate for the task at hand.
But we are people of hope, and people of grace, and people of forgiveness, and people of love. I thank God for love, I thank God for forgiveness, and I thank God that I am here, in this place. As I look ahead to the next four years, and beyond, all I ask is that we strive to walk in faith together, grow in love together, share grace together, bring hope together, work for peace together, and be the people God is calling us to be together.
Remember to pray for me (I surely need it), even as I always remember to pray for you. Thank God for St. Luke’s!! See you in church!