Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Surprising Reality

Today, I spent some time in my office writing what will be my final submission to our quarterly church magazine.  During that time, hundreds of faces came to mind as I reviewed and reflected upon the work that had been accomplished over the last 5 years.  God has truly blessed my time here in Port Arthur and I am truly grateful for all that has transpired.

Since the announcement of our move to Tomball, many people have found ways to express their appreciation for my time here.  There are to be gatherings, both big and small, for my family and I to attend in the coming weeks.  Some have dropped by to say hi and share their gratitude for our time together.  Others have left little surprises of momentos to take with me on the next leg of the journey.

The gift that I am being given is a great goodbye.  Sure it is bittersweet.  We will miss others and others will miss us, but the capacity to be present and receive is a real gift of grace.

Many of my duties have moved towards completion.  I still preach every weekend and am teaching two classes a week, but much of the day to day work is coming to a close.  This is another beautiful gift because it is giving me a chance to do some reading for a consulting process my new church is participating in and it is giving me the time to get ahead of the game transitioning into a new appointment.

And that is where grace abounds and the reality becomes even more surprising.  My next church is currently being served by an amazing intentional interim pastor.  We have met on more than one occassion, have at least weekly phone conversations, and he has been gracious enough to permit me to interact with the lay leadership and staff prior to my arrival.  TOGETHER, we are resolving issues and working towards a seamless transition at the end of June.

My experience in the itinerate system of my denomination tells me that this is not normative; but rather a unique gift of grace where God is already doing amazing things in our soon to be new church home.  I wonder what would happen if more churches were as intentional about the coming and going of their pastors?  What would happen if we treated these transitions more like the passing of a baton in a relay race rather than the choppy abrubtness of just another relocation?  Just food for thought.

So the days are ticking by with visits to the conference office for conference business, appointments for relocation events, time with the new staff, summer camp and vbs duties with my current appointment on the horizon and in the midst of this surprising reality, I am truly blessed.

Thanks be to God!


forest ames said...

You are a great friend and great Pastor. You will be missed but never forgotten by so many. You have changed the lives of so many folks in this area it is just awesomeness at it's finest. You may be moving on but in spirit you will always be with us with your wisdom and kindness. Thank you for being such a good friend and spiritual leader.

God Bless
Forest Ames

forest ames said...
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Russell said...

Thanks Forest! It has been a blessing to be in ministry with you here in Port Arthur and to count you a friend.