Faith is a Verb.. Musings by Pastor Tony
September 14, 2018
My last Sunday is in 2 days, so this is my last column I write here. In a few weeks, I step into a new role as the Minister for Committee on Ministry Development and Leadership, to train people across the denomination in how we educate and form people for ministry and how we support Clergy in their ministries. At the heart of this is what churches need, and the changing landscape of churches. Clergy are being trained to address these changes, even as churches are known for their resistance to change and insistence on honoring tradition. In my 8 years as your pastor, we have addressed some of these traditions that may be blocking us from stepping into God's promised future.
Some in our congregation may feel like the changes we have undertaken together are cataclysmic, white others will feel like we are still too stuck in the tradition to be relevant in our world today. For me, the truth is somewhere in between. The cataclysmic shifts that are occurring in our church mirror those in our world, and for us to pass on any legacy as a congregation we must adapt to the changes, which may feel like we have abandoned all tradition. The tradition, though, is always held by God, as is the change, and the weird, wild, wonderful, woozy feelings we get as we live into the change. We have weathered many changes together, and we know there are always more to come, and I believe we have truly honored the traditions in ways that help with the changes.
I have often heard that a good preacher will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The challenge of modern church and ministry is that most of us like being comforted while few of us like being afflicted ( including me); and yet, growth of any kind, whether personal or as a congregation, must include some discomfort and maybe even pain. I hope I have struck a balance, pushing for uncomfortable change while also offering pastoral care during the process, and I pray that I have done this with the health and future of the church in sight.
We don't often get to both live through radical change and see the fruits of our labor be harvested. This is doubly true for clergy who join and lead a community for a season, and leave, relying on God to bring others to lead the harvest. This is part of my sadness as I leave, knowing that your lives and the life of this congregation will continue to change, and I will only get to watch it from afar. I do look firward to hearing what you and God discover together in the future.
Blessings, friends, on your continued ministry here at Arlington Community Church. Be open to some change. Honor the traditions, and also recognize when they are blocking growth. Love each other, love your neighbors, love this planet. This is what we have been handed from our forbears; May it be what we hand to those who follow.
Love in Christ,