Our lead pastor submitted her resignation last week after three months of being on medical leave. I have a myriad of responses.
First, I grieve the loss of a colleague in ministry. Kris and I met at the Bishop’s Theological Conference of the Minneapolis Area Synod in September of 2016. She was a guest speaker, invited to present Easter’s story of community engagement. We happened to sit next to each other at a social event and talked for over an hour. She called me four months later and asked if I was interested in a position at Easter. My family moved in May of 2017. I was initially drawn to this move because of who Kris is and the vision she had for the church. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with her and following her leadership, and becoming friends. I grieve that I will not have that dynamic relationship in my professional life any more.
Second, I celebrate for Kris. Kris has openly talked about her journey with anxiety and depression. It started getting to her at the end of last year. She called me into her office on February 27 and said she needed to take some time off to get her mind, spirit, and body back into healthy alignment. She, by the grace of God and the help of physicians, therapists, her family and friends, did get things realigned. When we reconnected a couple weeks ago she looked refreshed. She looked healthy. And, she knew God’s calling again. It is not to the local parish. So, I’m genuinely happy for her and am glad that she is not physically moving away from the area. I look forward to cultivating our friendship as we both move forward in different professional callings.
Third, I wait and I wonder. The Vision Board has been amazing during this time of suspended animation. Now, the plan is to hire an interim lead pastor, form a call committee, and seek God’s direction for a new lead pastor. No one knows how long this process will take. I am not discouraged by this. I believe this is an important, pregnant moment for Easter Lutheran Church. God has brought us to this place and God will lead us through it.
A woman who subscribes to this blog recently sent an email to me and said, “I was reading the Bible last night and I ‘get’ the name of your blog now.” I’m not sure which passage she was reading, but I call this blog Following the Cloud based on how God led the Israelites through the wilderness after the Exodus. He led them by a pillar of cloud in the daytime and a pillar of fire at night. When the cloud moved, they pulled up stakes and followed. When the cloud stopped, they set up camp and waited. Ultimately, that is all we can do in life.
The timing of this week’s sermon, and the Summer Worship Series–Alive!–as a whole, couldn’t be better. We are exploring the Holy Spirit by following Brian McLaren’s book We Make the Road by Walking. Our theme this week is “Walking in the Spirit” and the key texts are Colossians 2:6-7 and John 15:1-8. If you have read my blog for a while you know that I am squealing with delight inside, because these are two of my most favorite passages in all the Bible. I think they summarize the journey of spiritual formation. All we can ever do is seek to stay in tune with God’s Spirit and walk where the Spirit leads.
I will write more about this throughout the week. For now, let me close with two things. First, for those of you who care about Easter, know that it is OK to grieve for a while. I am. It is also OK to celebrate with Pastor Kris.
Second, I offer two images from our texts upon which I invite you to dwell. More later…