Stretching for the Gospel
As October 1 approaches, I am looking at how things will change when my schedule has fewer hours attached to my work at Aldersgate because I’m moving from working half-time at the church to working quarter-time. As I’ve said before, I will still be the Associate Pastor and you are still welcome to contact me for whatever you want. My commitment to being your pastor hasn’t changed and won’t change in the foreseeable future. However, I will have fewer hours in my week to work on the church business. The big change that you may notice is that I will be less likely to step in and do something, and instead I’ll work to transition some of you more fully into leadership roles to get things done, especially in creation of images for first service worship, pastoral care, and other tasks. I will spend one less day each week in the church office and I may be absent from events that other staff can attend. That said, I’m still figuring out all the details of the schedule and how I can make it work. I would like to hear your ideas and feedback. Please stay in touch about how this works.
October also brings some unique opportunities for me as your pastor. First, the congregation at Kennydale UMC is interested in forming more of a connection between our churches. There may be reason to collaborate around projects and ministry areas as they move into what God has planned for them for the future. To begin to develop that connection, I will be guest preaching there on October 7. Please pray for me and for them and for the Spirit to be with us. We are looking at dates in the spring when their Pastor, Rev. Dr. Kathy Morse might be able to join us in worship as well. Second, I will be attending the Residents in Ministry (RIM) retreat during the second week of October. RIM is a retreat for all provisional elders in the Pacific Northwest conference of the United Methodist Church to talk about how our formation is going as pastors. During this first of the RIM retreats, I’m told that we will be developing tools to help us become more culturally competent in our ministry settings. As I learn more about what that means, I’ll let you know. However that means that I will also be away from you on Sunday October 14. I know you are in good hands, since Pastor Brad will be with you. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m leaving you just because I’m going to be away for two Sundays in a row. In both cases, I will be with you in Spirit representing you in other parts of the United Methodist connection. The third unique thing going on for me in October is that all the clergy will be gathering for what is called the Gathering of the Orders in Wenatchee later in the month and they’ve asked me to be on the worship planning team. That won’t be over a Sunday so I won’t miss a third worship experience with you, but I will be away again, this time helping to plan worship that is (if it goes well) both uplifting and deeply rooted in Christ for clergy from all over the Pacific Northwest.
I mention all this now because I’m feeling stretched to be present as your pastor and also present with other United Methodists around the area.You may feel it too. However that feeling of being stretched is surely a sign of the work of God among us. Our Wesleyan heritage honors how we are connected to each other and to be connected, sometimes we get to be stretched. As my physical therapist sometimes tells me, stretching is good for me. It keeps my muscles from building up scar tissue that is painful and stretching facilitates a good range of motion.
After last week’s sermon, someone suggested to me that we should divide up the sanctuary into three sections, the way that I suggested an airplane could be divided up. Then during the sermon, a third of the congregation could sleep, a third could play board games, and the final third could watch movies. Instead of those activities, let me suggest we should be stretching. Let’s stretch our minds to imagine a little more clearly what the kingdom of God would look like in our context. Let’s stretch our hearts to care a little more deeply about those around us who are feeling disconnected. Let’s stretch our arms to reach a little more fully out into the world around us so God’s love is known and shared and shown. If you all get up to stretch next time I get up to preach, I’ll know why. I’ll see you this Sunday then again on October 21.