Preparations were being made for the 130th Anniversary of First Christian Church of Pomona, or so I was led to believe. Instead, on September 15th the congregation surprised me with a celebration of 25 years of ministry. I was ordained 25 years ago and I began serving this congregation not long after that.
“Thank You” begins to approximate my deep gratitude and humility for your recognition of 25 years of shared ministry. I have served most of my ministry with the people of First Christian Church of Pomona. You have learned alongside me, taught me, and been willing to learn from me. We are shaped by the people with whom we share life. You continue to help shape me closer to the stature of Christ and for that I am grateful.
You blessed me in worship as the Elders laid hands on me and prayed. You gifted me with stories of remembrance: stories that remind me how privileged my life is to be allowed into your lives and bring an approximation of the holy through prayer and presence. You set a feast before me in the presence of the community of Christ.
It was humbling to receive so much. As I listened to the stories and the kind expressions, I wondered who you were talking about. I struggled with feelings and thoughts, “I really don’t deserve this. There is so much I have left undone, didn’t do, could have done more of, could have done better.” I make this confession because I also recognize that these are feelings I hear expressed from many of you: you who are among some of the most faithful follower of Jesus I know.
There is always more we can do and I suppose since none of us is perfect so there is often room for improvement. What I want to affirm is what you gave me: there is enough. Life is abundant. Yes, there is always more to do,
but what I am doing is valued. One of the things pastors struggle with is relevance. Is what I do relevant in this world anymore, a world in which “spiritual not religious” is more the norm? I serve a religious community that has deep spiritual sensibility and commitment to a living faith. Our current culture is dismissive of religious community more out of ignorance and unfamiliarity. Thank you for the gift of relevance, which I experience as encouragement to keep pressing forward in ministry.