I’m preparing to preach this Sunday at Newport Covenant Church where I served for 5 years over 10 years ago. I think it would be honest and real to say I’m just a little anxious. While this church has been an important place in my life and while I have many dear friends from this community, there’s also a few ghosts for me. It was this church where the Pastoral Relations Committee asked me to leave, really for the wrong reasons in my opinion, after serving there for 5 years. No one had ever asked me to leave a place of ministry before–or after. I was startled, really troubled.
I still don’t have a good reason why this happened and I don’t want to adjudicate the case at this point really. I’m also where God wants me. I’ve moved on and healed and would never want to be doing something other than what God has called me to now. I did suffer a lot of pain as did my family. But also (in my efforts to keep this real and fair), the church reached out to me recently and sought to acknowledge where they messed up. This last summer I received a detailed letter from the board and interim pastor asking forgiveness for specific things that had happened. The pastor met with me and personally asked forgiveness.
Wow. I wept and prayed prayers of thanksgiving. I was really amazed by the grace and humility of this effort. I thought the church was very courageous. And Jesus like in this initiative of reconciliation. I reconciled years ago in my own heart with the church but the act of reconciliation became very tangible this last summer as they reached out to me. And now I get to preach, to bring the Word of God to this community this Sunday. I know, that sounds so presumptuous. Every preacher / pastor who opens Scripture before a community of hearers should do so with utmost humility. Truth be told, I’ve not always done that well myself.
So this Sunday, I feel led to share from Matthew 8:11, where Jesus says that “many will come from the east and west, and take their places at the feast with Abraham, Issac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” For those who pray, or meditate, whether Muslim, Christian, or something else, or those with no particular declared faith at this point, I’d appreciate your thoughts and prayers. I’m praying for still waters in my soul. Thanks.