Welcome to November!
First, I want to thank all of you for the excellent dinner prior to my installation on Oct. 20, as well as your overwhelming generosity toward us by filling our cupboards. Thank you for the Safeway gift cards (and whoever picked out the beer gets extra points for great choices!).
Thank you, as well, to Pr. Larson for taking such good care of the congregation during the vacancy. To paraphrase the proverb, “An excellent vacancy pastor who can find? He is far more precious than jewels.”
My contact information, which you may use freely. My cell phone, for now, is still a Minnesota number, 218-289-6387. (I’ll try to get a local number soon.) If you do not have long distance, please call the church office, and Hollie can give me a message for you. My e-mail is email@example.com and you can find sermons and newsletters and other random items at https://bishopandchristian.wordpress.com My day out of the study and with my family will be Monday, but if you have an emergency, please don’t hesitate to call. Also, stop in! I am here to listen, to talk, to get to know you. Soon I will begin to visit the members of the congregation. But I’m going to do it alphabetically, so if you have a name like mine that begins with a letter late in the alphabet, I’d be happy to visit with you earlier than 2015! Just let me know what day and time work for you.
A few things to think about: I will do things differently than other pastors you have had. I am aware of some of those differences, but not all of them. If I do or say something that seems strange or wrong, please feel free to ask me about it. Hopefully, everything I do has a reason behind it, and I would be more than happy to share that reason with you. This also applies to me. You are not the same people I served in Minnesota, so if I have a question or a concern, I will also talk to you about it. It is never good for congregations when people talk to anyone except the person with whom they have an issue. That can only breed distrust and destroy the communion of the saints. And, love covers over a multitude of sins. In our families, in our congregations, in our jobs, in our communities, it is helpful to take a deep breath and ask ourselves whether this is really the big deal we have made it to be. Perhaps the whole congregation (in this case) might be better served by me just swallowing my words and forgiving.
The way I approach the Divine Service (divine because it’s God’s, and service because He serves us), is that I try to keep in mind what we believe about the things that are happening. I really believe God’s Word in Jesus Christ is being spoken. So I will treat the reading and preaching of His Word in a particular way. I really believe we eat and drink Christ’s Body and Blood with the bread and the wine. So I will treat the giving out of the Sacrament in a particular way. Again, I’d be happy to discuss any of this with you, if you have a question or concern.
The single thing that sustains me as a pastor is knowing that the Lord keeps His Word. If the Lord does not build His House, the laborers labor in vain. If He does not grant growth and fruit, all the tending and watering in the world won’t make a difference. Good thing, then—blessed thing, then—that we have His sure and certain promise, this month and always. So come and hear it. In one of the Bible studies, and especially when His forgiving Word is proclaimed and His life-giving Body and Blood are given out, on the day of His resurrection, in the ways He has chosen to serve us.
*St. Augustine (354-430 AD), Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, said, “For you I am a bishop [overseer]; with you I am a Christian.”