The past few days have been difficult. I have come to the end of my time as the interim pastor of the church Where I grew up. The past twenty months or so have been a wonderful time of learning, and growth. I had been accepted as pastor by people I had known all my life, walked with them through trouble and happy times. A number of times I was tempted to stay, to make the job permanent, but each time the voices of those much more experienced than I am, pulled me back.
Sunday was my last service. It was a full one with a baptism and five professions of faith. There was a sense of celebration. There was a cake with “Thank You Pastor Ken” emblazoned on it. It all seemed a little unreal though. There was still work to do, still issues to be resolved, discussions to be had, hands to hold, prayers to be said, lives to touch. It was over but didn’t feel like it.
Monday, I moved out of my office. All my books fit in six boxes left from the restoration company after our fire last summer. The room I spent so much time in over the past months looked bare, impersonal, without the books, pictures and pottery. It looked sad, alone.
Yesterday I attended the classis meeting where the new pastor was examined for ordination. He passed with no problem. Next week, he will move into that empty office, take up the many tasks of a village pastor, start to get to know his sheep.
I need to remind myself that the job is over, a new shepherd is in place, the problems of this flock are no longer mine. But, it doesn’t seem that easy. Maybe this too is part of the danger of pastoring a church where you grew up. Walking away from friends and peers, from a supportive and loving community, to leave them in the hands of another, is very difficult. My place there was more than a job, but to really allow the new shepherd to find his place, to grow as a pastor, I need to treat it as if it was just a job and move on to the next thing.
The immediate next thing is beginning today. We are enroute to the airport right now, catching a flight to Vancouver to begin a three month journey across the continent. For the time being, this adventure will keep us occupied.
After that, we don’t know. God has been good, sending some very positive inquiries our way. Even if they don’t materialize, it is very encouraging to be considered.