“Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?”
1 Corinthians 9:10–11, ESV
In every place that I have been blessed to serve as a pastor, I am aware that there have been those ahead that have sown seeds that I will have a great harvest. Sometimes, those seeds were less fruitful and other times there were some great things laid out. I have also seen the Sower of Weeds’ work that has stunted the good seed that had been put out. The great thing that I have learned is that not all that is good or that is bad that may come from the people of each congregation can be directly related to the prior pastor. The spiritual growth of any people is reliant upon the Holy Spirit. As a pastor, it is my calling to be faithful in the work to which God has called me to do.
Each call that I have received has been different with different blessings and different challenges. I have always made some great relationships and have been sad to leave parishioners behind. At times I can reflect to some extent and understand more fully the words of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem as a hen gathering her chicks (Matthew 23:37) because my heart aches for their smiles and their presence. That is the heart of ministry, I believe. I also love the excitement of a new Call and the hope of “what is in store.” As I begin at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Gillett, WI, there is a lot of joy in my spirit. Now it didn’t begin the way I had hoped, catching Covid-19 was certainly not in the plan, but the love that has been poured out by many from the congregation after hearing the news and then throughout has been wonderful.
Officially, I am out of quarantine but most of my family will remain in quarantine until the first week of November and I am thankful that those of us who tested positive in the the household have only suffered what would be considered minor symptoms (though some of those symptoms are not pleasant and others, like the loss of taste and smell, are odd and a little annoying). This is the season we find ourselves in today and will be a defining and redefining of how we will do things from now on. The great blessings that I have received in this has forced me to recognize my own limitations and some of my shortcomings, i.e. I don’t often like to sit and wait but like to get things going. I have been blessed to see what God has been doing in this congregation and the wonderful foundation I am being given an opportunity to build upon. Developing a group of loving and faithful people to better understand and further live out their callings that God has placed on them. Some are at points of life that are transition points which can also be a difficult thing to navigate as, in life, we are called away from one calling into another. This I understand, as it is difficult to leave behind something that you “know” into an unknown full of pitfalls and uncertainty. It is the finding of a new home and new surroundings in a sense. Like my family and I moving into a new Call with a new home and community, if we constantly were to look back we may miss out on what God has in store for us and ahead of us in our lives.
As I reflect and look ahead, I can look back and see how God has continually provided for my family and for me and be thankful for where He has placed me. I can see the great work that He has been doing and humbly pray for His guidance to proclaim His glory in order to be a blessing for this congregation and this community. I see the seeds that have been planted that are bearing good fruit and am preparing to plant new seeds that will continue the good work with His people. We are all in His hands, let that give us peace.