From the Interim Pastor’s Desk – August 2015

Where Do We Go From Here? Ask Yogi.

Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

For five months our transition team at Good Shepherd has been meeting weekly to, in a sense, take these humorous words very seriously. They are trying to give honest thought and due diligence and prayer to our path toward the future. They are very much aware that their efforts might have a large effect on the long-term future of the congregation.

When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness they had a clever system of navigation.

The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. –Exodus 13:20-22

Leading a great migration through trackless wilderness was no easy feat. Keeping a large population moving together, and in the same direction, required some form of rapid communication It’s reasonable to believe that Moses and Aaron and the other leaders arranged to have some kind of burning, smoking vessel to be moved along with them, so that the smoke would be seen by day and the fire by night. People miles away would have a very clear indication of the path forward. In those signs the people saw, not only the leadership of Moses, but also of God. To those in the rear of the procession, the process must have seemed mysterious. In the tents of leadership, there was, no doubt, a lot of thinking, praying, talking, and planning that needed to be shared. “The people want to know where we are going,” they might say, “but in many ways, only God knows.” The transition team knows the importance of communicating with the entire congregation, even while thinking, praying, talking, and planning a movement of the whole congregation into the future.

Yogi Berra also said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” The transition team has been wrestling with several critical questions that, we pray, will give clear direction so that the whole congregation might move and act as one into the future. In studying the history of Good Shepherd over more than fifty years, one thing has become evident–while there are many fond memories of days gone by, Good Shepherd can never be what it was before. The world surrounding us has changed dramatically in the last ten years, let alone the last fifty. Mostly for the better, Good Shepherd has grown and changed also. Meeting the future is the goal—not recreating the past.

What Good Shepherd will be in the future will depend on clear assessment of gifts God has given and the challenges God brings. You are an important part of that assessment. Your prayers, patience, and good faith will be helpful. Please read the reports that the transition team has and will produce. Participate with a loving spirit in the surveys and conversations that the transition team will host. God has blessed us richly in the past. Good Shepherd has served the community of Rochester south of “the beltway,” for fifty-five years, and God has many blessings yet to give. God knows where we are going, and I can’t wait to see!

For the Love of Christ,

Pastor John