Week of the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Dear Friends in Christ:
This is my final Midweek Message to you as your pastor. What started as an outreach effort to make possible some form of contact with you as members during the pandemic shut-down when we could not meet much at all in person has continued for these two plus years as a regular weekly offering. I am glad to have had this occasion to engage in an epistolary form of ministry, which has its own roots in the letters of the New Testament. Now some final words.
This has been a most unusual time, to say the least, to have been in ministry together. I could be tempted to reduce this call to having been the “pandemic pastorate,” given how heavily the global health crisis has weighed on us all and colored so much of what we have been doing in all aspects of our lives. But that kind of reductionism would not be a fair and complete picture of what we have shared. For we have had, in my estimation, many very lovely occasions indeed which express the richness and fullness of Christian community when we are gathered around Christ in word and sacraments.
It has been a privilege to have proclaimed the gospel to you, first via video and then eventually in person on Sundays. You are attentive and engaged hearers of God’s word, and you have kept me on my toes, as it were, as a preacher, because I know from your feedback that you truly have been listening. And we have worshiped so faithfully together, employing a full range of the many resources available to us from our wider church in the service of the praise of almighty God when Christ in fact ministers to us through the word and the sacraments. Likewise, it’s been a joy to have been a teacher in your midst, for again, you are engaged and thoughtful participant disciples, students of our Lord. In many settings we’ve had rich conversations indeed, learning together and growing thereby in faith. These experiences have been a two-way street, for I have learned a great deal from you even as I have attempted to serve as your teacher! Moreover, it’s been a privilege to have walked with you in times when you’ve been in need of pastoral care and of prayer. I have truly enjoyed hearing stories of your life’s journeys and adventures when we’ve been in holy conversation together. Resurrection Church has remarkably gifted and dedicated lay leaders and staff members. I have consistently been impressed with the expertise you have brought to our life together pertaining especially, for example, to the administrative concerns of the church. I do believe that Resurrection Church persists in being an attractive and compelling congregation for qualified pastors seeking a call, even as this setting also presents challenges, as do most all congregations these days, given the tumultuous and ever-changing circumstances in nation and world.
What is left for me to say but thousand, thousand thanks? Thousand thanks to you and to God for the privilege of having served in this season as your pastor. In this mortal life, we never know what time is allotted to us. That’s true in all of our comings and goings, and it’s certainly true also concerning longevity in ministry. The fact that we have only been together for two years and some months does not detract from my cherishing our time together. Words begin to fail at moments like these. I pray that I have been faithful in upholding my side of the bargain in preaching the gospel, in presiding at worship, in teaching, and in offering care and leadership for such as time as this.
I know that it’s also true that I will not have occasion to say goodbye to many of you in person given the nature of summer travel and commitments on your parts. May these words, then, serve as a heartfelt goodbye for those whom I will not see this coming Sunday when our worship will include a rite for the conclusion of this ministry call and when we otherwise say personal goodbyes during the social time following in the parish hall.
Turning now to matters of transition, I have put into the hands of congregation leaders a document that lists particular matters that I had attended to as pastor so that it will be clear going forward who will do what in the coming season without my presence and before there may be an interim or another called pastor to lead and to serve. This document is offered in the service of making the transition as smooth as possible and so that matters of concern have less of a chance of falling through the cracks.
Also, please know that a call committee is being constituted even now and that preparations are being made in the bishop’s office to provide names of pastoral candidates as soon as possible. And Gordon Lathrop has devoted significant time and energy to lining up pastors to preach and preside each Sunday well into the autumn season. It’s also true that other pastors are at the ready to be on call for pastoral care needs. All of this will be further described in the weekly announcements messages that will continue to go out via Constant Contact.
You will note, if you’re present this Sunday for the rite for the conclusion of a call at the end of worship, that my first name will be employed in that rite, and not the title pastor. Beginning at that moment, I should be known to you as Jonathan, a baptized child of God, and not the one who serves as your pastor. It will be essential going forward that appropriate boundaries be maintained in the service of making the way for whoever next will be known to you as pastor. Which is to say, beginning with the end of worship this Sunday, I will no longer be available to you to serve in any pastoral capacity, and I will be steadfast going forward in maintaining those boundaries, again for the sake of honoring the leadership of the one who will succeed me as pastor in this place.
In conclusion, I will forever hold you and this place close to my heart as I give thanks to you and to God for this particular call which now becomes part of the richly textured fabric of my three decades of leadership and service in public ministry. And I will be praying for you as a congregation, especially for the Spirit’s guidance in soon bringing to you your next pastor as you are led into God’s promised future.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And thanks be to God.
Pastor Jonathan Linman