Saturday, 25 July 2015

Path of Renewal

Matthew 10:5-9 (The Message)
Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
"Don't begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don't try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
"Don't think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start.

At the end of this month, I will celebrate the 20th anniversary of my Ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.
I have served those years in Health Care Chaplaincy, in rural ministry and in urban ministry.
I have had the joy of being involved in church councils and committees (no, really!), mentoring students, facilitating discernment, and staffing National youth events while engaged in the immense breadth of everyday Parish Ministry.
And now, a new challenge beckons.
I have been called to serve as Coordinator for the Path of Renewal Project on which the Church of Scotland is embarking.
This project seeks to serve and support, in the first instance, 20 congregations throughout Scotland as they seek to discern the mission of God in their communities and grow and equip leaders to join in that mission.(in a nutshell!)
Since I first shared with the congregation I serve that I felt called to pursue this new pathway I have been profoundly affected by their questions and comments as well as by their grief and congratulations.
Questions such as: "Were you not happy here?"
Comments such as:"We always knew you were destined for higher things."
I know that few of us handle the process of change well. Indeed, the Path of Renewal Project will be hugely concerned with supporting Transitions as we seek other ways to do and to be church.
And, to be honest, I'm really struggling with the major upheaval it is to move from parish ministry into this new post- not least, finding a new home!
People say things out of shock or grief.
However, I would hope that it is clear to anyone who knows me how much I love Parish Ministry and how much I love this parish I am about to leave.
And it is frustrating that, after seven years of preaching on how special, unique and loved by God these people are, that any should think there is a higher or better calling in service of God.
But I cannot deny that God has now called me to a new thing and so I must relinquish a ministry I hold dear at present.
No matter how risky it is, no matter how fatuous colleagues might deem this new role, it is a role to which God is calling me at this time.
And so I go in faith.
Not without tears.
Not without trepidation.
Not because I seek something higher or better.
But because God calls.
And where God calls, there I must follow.
I look forward to continuing to share the journey with you.

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