When you begin a journey, most times you never know when it will end. For a teenager, the amount of time it takes to get the skills to pass a driver’s exam can not be measured. When you’re ready, you know.
For the individual, or the couple, engaged in downsizing to move into a retirement community, there is no set time. When you’re ready, you know.
The same is true when a pastor discerns the call to retirement. When you’re ready, you know.
Not that this is an easy decision to make. Far from it. You don’t just set down a tool and walk away. It is more involved. More involved because ministry is about relationships and mutual care. Witness and collaboration. It is about sharing Jesus with the world.
When we say our goodbyes on June 27 we will have spent 3,024 days together. Some were somber, even sad days. Some were challenging. Most were fulfilling. And a few were even silly. It has been a healthy balance.
Healthy is how I view Holy Spirit as it prepares to start a new era of ministry. I believe this congregation is spiritually healthy (that’s always first), administratively healthy (great lay leadership and the best staff ever) and financially healthy (both in week to week and in long term forecasts and goals). That takes effort to maintain. And you will.
Our first year together was marked by that surprise diagnosis of my prostate cancer (now long gone). Our last year together was marked by pandemic and fire (on the way to being gone, and repaired). In between were many, many times of serving Jesus in word and deed in some familiar ways and in some new ways. Be prepared to lean on the familiar and embrace the new as you walk the path of faith, first with your very qualified interim pastor, and later with your newly called pastor.
Thank you for the past 3,024 days (or 72,576 hours). Especially for how you welcomed and embraced Barb and I with hospitality and grace. This is a hopeful time for you. We will be cheering you on.
The Rev. Clifton D. Eshbach,