The turn of a new year always creates a pause in my life for reflection. A moment to mark the transition and look forward to the future.
As I reflect on this past year, I'm aware of the ways I have changed and grown both as a pastor and as a person. I'm also acutely aware of what has stayed the same.
One of the major themes of my ministry in San Francisco is the transient nature of the community. Each year, new people come into my life and into our ministry. And each year good friends and congregants move away. I find myself sitting with both grief and joy at these transitions. Grief that our church community must say goodbye to incredible leaders and faithful disciples and great joy that I've had the chance to meet them and share ministry with them.
|San Francisco at Night.|
In conversation with a colleague Monica Kilpatrick some time ago, she shared with me the metaphor of a port for my (and MBCC's) ministry in San Francisco. We are here, providing a space, a community, and a format for people to enter into. Some may only visit, stop and rest a while. Others may settle in, grow, share, and lead us. And as we bring people in, we also send some on their way to the next place God is calling them. This metaphor of a port is helpful to me as it reminds me that God has called me to a specific kind of ministry. A place that is active and energetic, fun and engaging. A community that is transient and will continue to change.
I now know that the emotional process of loss will remain the same struggle. The depth of my grief and my joy will stay the same. My heart saddened in the same way now as is was the first time. And honestly, that's a good thing. As hard as it is to say goodbye and grieve, it shows that my heart (and our hearts) are still open to loving. Open to the newness God is bringing our way.
During worship last Sunday, we laid hands on one of our members who is moving away. This ritual of laying on hands and praying over the one who is being called elsewhere is such a beautiful gift for our community. It acknowledges the pain of the loss, lifts it to God and reminds us all that beyond this place, beyond our geography, beyond even our community in each other....we belong to God. We are rooted in God and thus we are forever connected to one another through God.
As I look to the new year, I am excited about the new energy, ideas and growth. I also hold within my heart the people who have come and gone during my ministry at MBCC and I hope you know you will forever keep a place in my heart.
Happy 2015! Here's to remembering, celebrating and jumping into the new year!