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All the time…


A word with special affection for the folks in Elmore.

Yesterday was a good, but difficult, day here at Grace…our first Sunday morning together since my resignation had been officially announced to the congregation. What a mixed bag: congratulations and good wishes on a new call, tears and hugs as befits the parting of friends, and concern about what a change in pastoral leadership will mean for a congregation that has grown comfortable (not complacent, mind you, but comfortable) with the same guy around for nineteen years.

Pretty normal stuff, it seems to me. There is some grief work to be done here by all of us. And not to deny that…but can I also share with you how confident I feel about this?

Nearly two decades ago this congregation took a chance on a thirty-something, second career, retread of a pastor with a wife and two little kids. We came to Elmore looking like deer in the headlights…knowing very little about what it meant to live in a parsonage or be adopted into a community or manage the somewhat fishbowl life that such a call entails. The people of Grace took us in, showed us the ropes, and loved us like we were natives.

As a result, the work of God got done in this place. We learned that we could trust each other…work with each other…sometimes fight and all the time care for each other. And along the way, God blessed us with insight and creativity and hard work and new facilities and more folks and an openness to the community that allowed us to speak and live the Good News we’d been given. Together, we got to be Church.

If you’ve been around a church or Sunday School much you’ve probably heard this: “God is good…all the time. And all the time, God is good.” Yes? Well…here amidst the corn and tomato fields of northwestern Ohio, we’ve had the great privilege of living this adage together for longer than we had a right to expect. And now, as the future unfolds in a direction we did not expect, we can look back on a blessed past with the confidence that the God who has walked with us walks with us still.

Taking leave may be hard. Trusting God to carry us into the future is not. We’ve been here before, and we know from experience that…all the time…we are in very good hands, indeed.


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