Dear Living Table United Church of Christ, what a joy it has been to sojourn with you this summer!
I’m deeply grateful for your warmth, your flexibility (Yes, your flexibility!), your faithfulness, and your curiosity about what it means to be church and Love-makers during these troubled times. I’m also grateful for your going-with-the-flow when somewhat unfamiliar Ritual Arts forms and practices were integrated into worship and your preacher tried to teach you some Southern-speak!
Most of all, however, I am grateful for your authenticity and lack of pretense! I’ve rarely had to study on what’s afoot with you and I’ve delighted in that because it facilitated our zeroing in on the heart of things. Now, in addition to saying, Thanks, it’s also time to say, Goodbye.
Next Sunday, September 11, is the day I will officially hand back to Pastor Rachael the privileges and responsibilities of serving as your pastor for the last three months. I will release you back into her care and I will henceforth stay out of her business with you and yours with her. It’s a kind of letting go which I first experienced as a Methodist PK (preacher’s kid) who moved every 3-4 years. As a child, I couldn’t grasp the need for that abrupt severance from my friends. Pastoring was my Daddy’s business, after all, not mine.
As an adult and pastor myself, however, I’ve come to treasure the necessity and rightness of those boundaries. Sixty-five years ago, seeds were sown in me that took decades to bloom! Because of those imposed boundaries during my early childhood, at least one of those seeds has become a perennial flower in my skill garden. It’s my ability to be authentically present wherever I find myself – even though that’s no easy feat for an off-the-charts introvert!
And you, Living Table UCC, are also still blooming, like the new garden outside the east doors of the small sanctuary. Some seeds in you were also sown decades ago. And some of them have grown into healthy, fruit-laden vines! We know that vines need to be pruned regularly. We know that, in spite of your best efforts, weeds persist. That’s what weeds do best! We keep pulling them out by the roots and yet, like the weeds of our humanness, they poke themselves up now and then amidst lovingly cultivated flowers.
Living Table United Church of Christ, you are a most precious garden! Treat yourselves and others as such whenever possible. Remember that ultimately, you are the gardeners, not the vine-makers. Love IS the vine. YOU are the branches. If you abide in Love, abide _________ in Love, you will bear _______ fruit!
With much love and gratitude,