"The word is near you,
"on your lips and in your heart"
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)
I am on vacation this week. My son and I are off to discover the cities of Indianapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati. We live for this week in the summer.
However, in Atlanta, hundreds of our rostered ministers are gathered for a week of for worship, education and fellowship at the first-ever ELCA Rostered Ministers Gathering. A number of our Northeastern Ohio Rostered Ministers are in attendance. I feel conflicted about not being there; but I am holding the planners, the preachers, the presenters, and the people in prayer. May their time together be fruitful and may God be glorified.
This coming Sunday, August 13, I will be with the people of God at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Brook Park, Ohio, as they begin preparing to say farewell to Pastor Michael Oakley, who is relocating to Cincinnati. His final Sunday there will be August 30.
Following the service this Sunday, there will be fellowship with an opportunity for conversation with the bishop. I welcome this opportunity - always.
When a pastor leaves a congregation, whether it be by resignation, retirement, or any other circumstance, it is a time of uncertainty for the people. The Congregation has built loyalties and deep meaningful relationships with the pastor, regardless of the amount of time he or she has been there. Uncertainty fuels anxiety to varying degrees. It's human tendency to focus on the negative: How soon will we have a new pastor? How long will we have an interim? What will the new pastor be like? How will we survive?
Those are but a few of the questions that tend to dominate people's minds.
In many ways, we can see a parallel between this real-life situation, and the plight of Peter in the
from this Sunday's lectionary. We read about Jesus walking on the sea and Peter, trying to prove he has no fear. "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."
Francois Boucher - Peter Invited to
Walk on Water, 1766
He heads to where Jesus is but the confident look on Peter's face turns to one of fear when he notices the strong winds around him. He gets scared and begins to sink. His faith turns to doubt, to the point that he calls out
"Lord, save me!"
Fortunately, Jesus is there to reach out and rescue him.
Jesus promises to be with us always, but the storms in our lives often overwhelm us to the point that we fail to recognize his presence. The Gospel reading invites us and encourage us to focus instead upon Jesus, the Lord of life, who is there to reach out his hand and catch us.
We've had a flurry of pastoral transitions this summer. We welcome: Pastor Jim Steingass, who will serve at St. Luke's, Cuyahoga Falls; Pastor Paul Bailie has been called as associate at Good Shepherd, Conneaut; Pastor Seth Bridger, as associate at Messiah, Fairview Park; and Pastor Sara Cogsil, as pastor of Trinity, Lakewood. All are new to Northeastern Ohio
The Northeastern Ohio Synod ordination has been scheduled for
Saturday, October 7
First Lutheran Church
. So far, one seminarian (Kathryn Jacob) has received a call. We are hopeful that another call will be announced soon.
May God's Word strengthen your faith, and may the Spirit give you the confidence to put your trust in the Lord,
this week and always.
+Bishop Abraham Allende