Sermon prep waits and I am aware that I preach at Soul Link only three more times; I already know what the final sermon will be. I want to be sure that the other two are of value for those who remain here preparing to take up the slack while preparing to find someone new to lead this congregation. People ask me whether I am concerned that this congregation will survive. And, I would be if I did not think that I have prepared them to be a congregation in service of God rather than a congregation that is “my” flock.
Some nice things many people tell me is that I have made a difference in this county during my three short (sometimes very, very long) years here. People call me and email me (some of them I don’t even know) to tell me they appreciate that I take a vocal stand for those on the margins or those who need help. I decided a while ago that I have a voice and I need to use it. So I do. I try to remember, even as I use this voice, that some who hear me are offended. I hope not to offend so much that the message of hope and justice and love is lost. I remember recently when one clergy in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) refused to stand next to me because I am so liberal. So, obviously, I do offend loudly! Boldly! Maybe so. But let’s not lose the message.
What is poignant for me is that when I leave here, I will not know how this congregation fares - I will not know if a pastor is found or if the congregation continues or what it looks like in five years and ten years. I cannot come back, I cannot be in contact with members of the congregation - that does not mean that I don’t care. Just that I honor my denomination’s desire that I leave and leave cleanly for the next person of the cloth to come and minister to a healthy congregation.
I am eager to move to New Mexico (St. Paul’s UCC in Rio Rancho) and start this next chapter of my clergy life. At the same time, I will miss Wellsboro and Mansfield and the many friends I have found here - people who accepted me even though I don’t have deep roots here. I do have little hair roots that have been cared for by many. I pray that this move provides me with deep roots and a congregation that is as accepting and loving as the one I am leaving. My spiritual director reminds me that it is in God’s hands. So, into your hands O God, my future. Into your loving hands O God, this Soul Link Faith Community.