I’m thrilled to share this greeting with every household that receives this newsletter. It seems like forever since November 20, 2016, when I learned from Tristan Pearson that I was officially being called as your new lead pastor. I truly appreciate the time you gave to me to rest and find my bearings while transitioning to Rochester for this new beginning Cindy and I have landed in what we are calling “transitional housing” which relieves us from commuting, and it gives us time to sell our current home and then find a make a home in Rochester.
New beginnings–I’ve always felt that new beginnings require some definition. In my Christmas Eve sermon, I spoke of a definition in the new beginning given by St. Matthew as he opens the New Testament, saying, “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.” This beginning is defined by what could then and now be known as the sacred (that which is inspired by God) and the mundane (that which is inspired by something of the earth). Once God had established His new presence within the world of humankind, this definition took on meaning, which continues to guide our faith and lives today.
When Jesus calls his first disciples, this new beginning for His ministry was defined by a faithful kind of following. It was a faith built upon a new willingness to set aside things temporal for a spiritual quest that would make sense of all things temporal under a new mantle of understanding–a faith in Christ Jesus.
My new beginning with you is not to be compared with these profound definitions, except that may our new beginning together be couched within a sacred call with a lot of faithful followers. To offer a definition for this beginning with you, I would like to offer my rather simple approach to begin my ministry with you. First, I believe it is so important for me to share the love of Christ with you–for me to love you. Love is central to God, HIs grace that surrounds us, and the meaning of our faith. Second, I wish to listen to you. In addition to leading worship and participating in as many meetings as possible, I plan to visit many households in the coming months; this will provide time and place for me to listen to you. You, the congregation of Good Shepherd Lutheran, have stories to tell, chapters that constitute the larger narrative of God’s mission that happens in this place called Good Shepherd Church. Using the words of Bishop Delzer, “As we listen to one another’s stories in the church, we hear about the variety of ways we experience God’s presence in our lives, and as we listen to our neighbors’ stories, we learn about some of the places to which God might be leading us in our communities.” Third, I am eager to learn from you. You hold a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about how ministry gets done her and you know the nuances of this culture. To be part of that, I must learn from you.
I believe that only in my loving you, listening to you, and learning from you, will I become a good shepherd kind of leader with you. A good shepherd is one who loves his sheep, listens intently to their joys and sorrows, and learns the prevailing wisdom of the flock before making assumptions about trying to lead them.
I hope you will consider this definition for our new beginning together and help me as I find ways to visit and get to know each of you.
In Christ’s love,