My parents have had a small summer cottage in the woods of Michigan since before I was born. It was there on that water, in those woods, and near those streams that I first experienced, in small scale, all that I love and seek out about the world today as an adult. “It was my base camp for life,” I joke to my dad. I gained confidence in skills I would need for my life and passions as an adult. Hiking, swimming, surmounting obstacles, and getting up after falling down…all of this I learned and embodied in that sacred place. This is what St. Luke’s has been for me, but in another sphere of life and passion: my call to serve in the Word and Sacrament of God’s Church.
I came to St. Luke’s an enthusiastic and passionate man, filled with goals and ideas, but not yet able to fully articulate those passions with an effective voice. St. Luke’s helped me find my voice. Through the wise and attentive mentoring of Pastor Erik, and the profound embrace of a loving and active community, St. Luke’s instilled in me the confidence and the pastoral sensitivities I needed to speak with love and purpose. Often, when I take a breath before my sermon, I recall the calm that first came over me when preaching at St. Luke’s sometime ago the first time I realized without a doubt this is what I am supposed to be doing.
St. Luke’s taught me to be a pastor. As I said in my final sermon as a Ministry in Context sermon, during my three years of service at St. Luke’s I found in myself a pastor who was growing before my own eyes. I mean this not in a boastful way, as if to say, “I’ve learned all that I needed to learn, and gained all that I lacked and now I’m READY!” Rather, I say with deep gratitude to the people of St. Luke’s, “You helped me discover in myself the skills and sensitivities of a faithful and skilled pastor. Thank you.”
I now work with ELCA Churchwide, with the Global Church Sponsorship team. My role on this team is to keep Congregations and individuals connected to the global elements of the ELCA ministries they support. Most often this takes the shape of sharing stories, listening to and discerning the passions of people, and connecting the dots. It is a thrilling prospect, to be honest, to have the stories and needs of a particular global context in one hand, and then to gather and process the passions and dreams of a particular individual in the other hand, and then to have the honor of introducing them to one another. It is a joy to be caught up in the dynamic workings of the Spirit even across such distances.
While I am grateful for this work, and enjoying it, I am sad about how it keeps me from regular attendance at St. Luke’s. I miss my community there, and I continue to be grateful and aware of all you have done for me. I consider you my home, and I am honored to do so. Our creative and active God is moving powerfully through the people of St. Luke’s. I look forward to seeing what She has in store for the years ahead.
Thank you, St. Luke’s, for all you’ve done for me.