[Personal side note: I know I have posted a lot recently so hopefully I am not overwhelming you…it’s just that I have had lots on my heart to say.]
This last week has been a faith journey for me (times of trial have a way of leading people on these journeys).
For me this faith journey started (of course) last week when the ELCA Churchwide assembly began debating/discussing the sexuality issues. But I don’t want to write another post about these issues (been there, done that). Rather I want to share with you what has been going on inside of my heart during this past week…after all…this blog is titled “The HEART of a Pastor”.
Recently I had a conversation with a person who shared with me their heart about what happened at the ELCA CWA. When this person called me and told me they were coming in, I did not expect a conversation about “the vote”, but when this person arrived…oh boy…I saw the heart of this person that I had not seen before. They were almost apologetic but I kept telling them “We need more people like you to open their hearts and share what they are feeling about what is going on. I appreciate seeing and hearing your passion and faith.” This person was not happy about the outcome of “the vote” but need to tell someone…and they felt I was the only one they could talk to. I wish that were no so. I wish this person felt comfortable talking to others about their feelings and faith. I told this person “I got a feeling that there are plenty others who probably feel the same as you. So share your faith and don’t be afraid.” I am not sure what this person will do, but hopefully this is just the beginning.
But in another way this “beginning” kind of scares me…
…part of me doesn’t feel ready to take on this task because I am still on this faith journey. But another part of me knows that I need to be ready to guide and lead this congregation…and because that is the case I trust that God will guide me along this journey and give me what I need to lead Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches through these tumultuous (wow…that is kind of a big word for me to use, but I like it) waters.
Yet another part of me is somewhat concerned what people here and beyond will do. Will churches and people up and leave the ELCA? Will Salem want to do that? This is just one uncertainty that plagues me and one that I need to be ready to deal with. I need to explore my heart and test my faith to see where it leads me. I know the question will come up so I am in constant prayer…asking God for guidance and wisdom here. “What is your plan for me and this church, oh God? Where are you leading us? How are we to be faithful witnesses to the world during this tumultuous time in the Church? But also…I don’t want this issue of homosexuality to distract us from the Gospel. Grant me/us wisdom oh God.”
But I am thankful that this journey is happening before the busyness of the fall season hits. School is not in session yet; Release Time and Confirmation classes don’t start for another couple weeks and Salem’s 125th anniversary is still a couple weeks away. I can afford some down time to pray, reflect, talk with colleagues, write, read, pray, reflect, etc… And I got a feeling I will be doing plenty of this during the week and beyond.
I don’t understand why things happened last week the way they did, but I hope and pray it causes people to reflect, pray and engage their own personal faith journeys. Maybe the Church needed this to spur people to action; to explore their relationship with God; to get people talking and thinking; to force people to explore their faith; to get into scripture more. Whatever God is doing I trust that the mission of Christ will continue forward and that we will continue to be faithful witnesses.
“Oh God, grant me strength and wisdom.”