June 20, 2021 will be my last Sunday in the pulpit after 38 years of pastoral ministry. And that includes my 5 years as your pastor. I am sad and happy at the same time. Sad that I am leaving this congregation, sad that I will not be the shepherd of a flock, sad that I won’t be writing sermons. (Well, maybe not that sad about that). I know you think my sermons fall out of heaven, but really they are toil. I like writing them but I have struggled with scripture and with my own soul, what to say and what not to say. Through the years I struggled with my own insecurities, doubts, and even depression.
I am happy in that I will be able to spend more time with my wife and grandchildren. I will be able to relax on Saturday night. I will be able to travel and hike and bike. I think I will simply take some time to breathe.
In regards to preaching, I have always felt that I was able to say whatever I thought that God was calling me to say and that I have never been censored by any of the congregations I have served. Have they always liked what I preached? NO, but a lot of the scripture forces us to struggle. Scripture, if we honestly look at it, confronts us as much as it comforts us. I hope that as your pastor I have been able to do both, in love.
I have 1000 things to say and yet I have had 5 years to say most everything I have wanted to say. I guess it’s time to simply sum up:
- Trust God.
- Know that God is with you in good and bad times.
- Know that God has power over death and over dead lives.
- Know that life is to be lived fully – not with the breaks on.
- Love God and Love people.
I wish I had been a better pastor, preacher, and administrator. I wish I had spent more time visiting, more time studying, more time working with the staff. Please forgive me for my shortcomings. Know that I love you and have been proud and honored to be the pastor of St. John. Know also that I feel really great about the future of St. John; you have established yourself in this community as a hospitable congregation, who welcomes all. You have reached out to this community and have always striven for excellence in music. And I believe that your new incoming pastor, Rev. Matt Nelson, is a wonderful match for this congregation. Pray for him and his family. Greet them with the love that you have shown me and Debye.
“May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back, the sun shine warm upon your face, the rain fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”
I hope I will be able to hug your neck before I leave.
In the service of Christ, with all my love,
We invite you to a retirement reception after 11am worship service. We will honor Rev. Jody Alderman as he moves into retirement and honor our long-term hostess Etelka Mayo, who retired last May. We will also bid Rev. Lindsey Solomon and her family farewell as she moves into a new appointment.