For the third time ever, the Presbytery of Carlisle installed a pastor at St. James Presbyterian Church, and this morning, I give thanks that I am the one on whom this honor and privilege has been most recently bestowed.
At last night’s Service of Installation, Moderator Kim Wadlington reminded us of Paul’s observation that there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit. There are many roles that one may play in the church, and each role is as important as the next one.
The office of installed pastor is a distinctive one. The expectation is that an installed pastor will serve the same congregation for a while. Meaning: among other things, installed pastors, unlike transitional ministers or contract pastors, live with the consequences of the their actions and are afforded opportunities to build relationships with members of the congregation and presbytery in which they serve over time.
I don’t know who said it first, but I believe the oft-quoted saying that God brings people into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Thus, all ministry is seasonal.
Back when I was in seminary, I was required to participate in “parish setting supervised ministry,” which involved monthly meetings with members of the church that I was serving. At one meeting, one member of the church pointed out that all ministers are “interims.” Obviously, this statement affected my perspective on ministry; otherwise, I wouldn’t remember it.
I also remember the Head of Staff’s response to this self-evident truth. He was offended and enraged, and I didn’t understand why. In the end, all of us retire or die, and unless the church retires or dies with us, then God will call another pastor to the church.
All that any of us has is the present, and at this point in my life, I am grateful that we, as St. James Presbyterian Church, have each other. Now that we have made promises to each other, we are in this together, and I pray that we will always strive to make the best of our relationship as pastor and people.
Of all the promises that I made to you last night, my favorite one is in response to the question: Will you pray for and seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination and love? I will, and as I do, I believe that we will discover the many reasons that God has brought us together.
I believe that we will find much humor and satisfaction in the season that we share, and that the memories that we make, by God’s grace, will sustain us for a lifetime.