by Pastor BarbA rite of installation marks the start of a pastor’s call with a congregation. It’s good to have that official day, but “install” is a funny word to apply to a person, isn’t it? If you attended my installation service on June 9 (or watched it on the GLC website) you heard Pastor Craig from the synod office compare installing a new pastor to installing a new furnace. He wasn’t just trying to be funny (although that was, I thought). As I have thought more about that word, it has seemed to fit.
A furnace sits at the center of a church building’s foundation (in the basement), connects to every space in the building, and spreads warmth to make sure the temperature of the building never gets too cold. A pastor sits in the midst of the congregation, and connects to every person (we hope). As I looked around for ways to stretch this metaphor, I found this in an ad for a “dual-fuel” heating system: “This combination keeps you comfortable…by using the strengths of both electric and gas systems.” Gethsemane now has a larger pastoral staff, and we might say it’s a “dual-fuel” system as well. Pastor Jeff and I are different people with different strengths, and we draw on different internal resources (or fuels) as we do ministry with you.
But, maybe instead of saying that we pastors are the ones who spread warmth, perhaps we are just ones who tend the fire. All of you, each in your own way, spread warmth of various kinds to help the temperature of the congregation, so to speak, stay nice and warm. What kinds of warmth? The warmth carried in God’s word, the warmth we feel when we receive the bread and wine, or when we sing together, and pray together for one another, and care for one another; the warm feeling we get in serving our neighbors, and in just being together and…well, you can take it from there. So, as we all work together, there should never be any cold spots among us. Ever. And, we are both a heating and cooling system. We can also work together to cool things down if they get too hot.
Ok, that’s about as far as I want to push the furnace idea. Beyond that, it’s time for me to say a big “thank you” to all of you. You have been so very kind to me during my time here, and welcoming, and supportive. I have come to think of this call as “the gift that keeps on giving.” As I pray continually for God to bless and keep you in the work of the church and in your lives, I hope that you will continue to pray for me and walk with me in my role here. Now that the steps in the “on-boarding” process are completed, we turn our full attention back to the hard and rewarding work of being church together on our corner of North Minneapolis. I look forward to the days ahead.