28 June, 2012

The Interim

Let me finish my time of interim ministry with an apology:  I didn’t get everything done I intended to get done.  For example:  every summer when I return from a week of vacation, I throw the sermon out the window and spend a Sunday with a time of questions and answers in the place where the sermon usually goes in the service.  Since last June I have had on my desk nine slips of paper with the questions I did not have time to answer on that “Stump the Pastor” Sunday.  I had promised I would put the responses into the newsletter.  I only made time to respond to one – and it was just a month ago.  

There were other things I intended to do as well: offer another class of “Called to Care,” gather a task force together to revise the Building Use Policy, follow up on the families of some of recently deceased members, and visit with certain members of the congregation just because I wanted to understand them better.  I didn’t do these things.  And for that I am sorry.

I could make excuses for these things.  I could tell you how many funerals have come up.  I could point to the number of meetings and pastoral care situations I’ve attended.  I could tally up all my missed days off and all the late nights I’ve spent doing this or that of church work.  But these are, at best, reasons for my not completing the tasks.  Excuse, in the Oxford English Dictionary, is The action of looking indulgently upon an offender or an offense; a consideration, indulgence, pardon.  An excuse is not mine to give; it requires both of us working things out and you pardoning me for my omission. 
So I am left with an apology to offer.  I did not complete all that I would have liked to complete in 24 months.  And, I am sure that along the way, I have offended more than one of the members.  To these, I confess that I am sorry; I wish it could have been different.  I seek  forgiveness.

I am sure that I have not been the pastor each one has wanted.  I am confident that a few deem my time doing interim ministry a waste and a farce.  There are things for which some will blame me, especially since my being “out of the picture” will make that convenient.  For these, I can only offer that I have done the best that I could with what gifts God has given me.  And to these I would hope they might pray about the role their expectations, participation, and words might have contributed to their disappointment. 

If there is one thing I hope each member of the churches I've served has learned in their time between pastors, it is this:  Each of us plays a role in the results we share.  If you are not happy with a situation, prayerfully and humbly examine the role you have played in helping it come about.  If you are pleased with the outcome of something, humbly acknowledge that you did not accomplish it on your own.  If you are stressed about a situation, humbly and openly discuss with those directly involved that stress and confess your own part of the making.  This is what being a member of a healthy congregation requires.  

As for me, I have been changed by all of you.  A part of each of you will go with me to a new ministry in a new location.  As Stephen Schwartz so aptly wrote in the musical, Wicked, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”  I hope the same is true for you.

Blessing on your journey, where ever God leads you.        

Pastor Carly