I actually feel quite “adventy” already this year, even though the greening of the church isn’t until Saturday – it may be because I’m freezing my toes off and I’m ready for a warm Christmas fire!
Since Advent is about expecting new beginnings and amazements in our world, it is appropriate that Theresa and myself, after a long preparation and some waiting, are called as co-pastors, now to be installed in this Advent season.
Some of you thought we were co-pastors already or didn’t understand that we were in head of staff/associate positions. Some were not sure why there had to be any change since titles around St John’s seem to be irrelevant. Some perhaps wondered why bother, what’s the big deal, why change, let’s just keep moving forward without fixing something that ain’t broke.
Since I approached Theresa a year and a half ago about it and then presented it to session who presented it to you for your decision in June, and has since been approved by the committee on ministry and the Presbytery, we have waited in long preparation, and perhaps have forgotten why we even began.
Theresa, St. John’s as a whole and I have always stressed partnership in ministry, a servant attitude that does not compare one to another, or emphasize one person over another. Clearly we understood that while we have different gifts, we are one as the Body of Christ. We realize the strength that comes with corporate-ness as well as the variety of style, personality and gifts. We wish to model equality, a lack of hierarchy, to our community, our denomination, to others in ministry and provide a new model for the emerging church of the future. Our leadership style, of visioning, communication and decision–making is already collaborative, so this will provide some clarity and structure to what we already do. This will give stability to our nimbleness and responsibility, officially allowing us to focus on our particular gifts.
I hope we can look at this new pastoral relationship to which Theresa and I are called, and to which the congregational is called, as symbolic of where we have journeyed these many years. It will remind us that we are all servants with one another in ministry with Jesus Christ. It will remind us that the call to follow Jesus is ever renewed, and there are times when we particularly celebrate that call and our response to it. Perhaps the Spirit has guided us, preparing St. John’s for this time, so that we may be expectant of even more marvelous things that God will do in our midst, as we recommit and respond to the call to be servants in this community, this congregation, this world, with all our neighbors.
What was certain about my call to St. John’s 22 years ago, Theresa’s 10 years ago, and each of your call here to St. John’s, is the uncertainty of what would happen next, what the challenge around the corner would be, what fear or joy would take hold of us, what unexpected promise would be uncovered. That is what our call, our faith response is about – nothing for certain, yet everything secure.
I hope you will share in the installation service on December 15 as an installation of all of us to a new sense of call and that you will come to celebrate what we are all doing here at St John’s in a way that no one else can do, not because we are better, but because we are uniquely gifted and planted, and each of you is unique in your own ministry. Together with our variety of gifts we serve one Lord Jesus Christ. It is because we are each different and bring special gifts that we can do so much here through our entrepreneurial spirit, where each person takes responsibility and initiative for seeing how God’s call can be lived out here.
So together let’s share this very special Sunday and look forward to a Christmas of fresh promise, unbridled hope and a bright future that we share together, as we love Jesus and love one another in his name.
yours, pastor John