Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pastor Paul's last Sunday

Today was my last Sunday at Amazing Grace. With exuberant hospitality, Amazing Grace marked the day with a potluck at noon. We also marked it liturgically during worship. With both sadness and deep gratitude, we had special prayer of thanksgiving for ministry, which included the congregation and I blessing each other. I would not have picked the lectionary text about adultery, lust and divorce, but the image from 1 Corinthians 3 was helpful for realizing that many people are involved in the work of ministry, but God is the actor. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”

I realize that all ministry is interim ministry, because there is something before and something after. I had not planned to be at Amazing Grace so short of a time; in some ways, I’m an “unintentional interim,” but I leave trusting in God’s grace. It is hard for a congregation to say goodbye to a pastor, but it is also hard for a pastor to say goodbye to a congregation.

As I leave Amazing Grace, I won’t see what happens next. I won’t see babies I baptized come to Sunday school. I won’t be the one visiting in the nursing home. I will no longer be pastor here, but will continue as your co-worker in the Gospel as a colleague in the conference and synod. Seeds planted for me here will come to fruition somewhere else. I have learned so much. We have learned so much together at Amazing Grace.

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