Our Quest for Faithful Presence

Dear St Luke’s,

Since Pastor Mark and I will be will be co-presiding and co-preaching on “Transition Sunday” (August 27th), this weekend will be my last opportunity to preach and preside solo. 

Amidst these weeks of transition, I find myself feeling about St Luke’s the way I often feel after an extended time with my brother or sister or with a dear friend… so very happy for the time we shared, and sadness at our parting.  Happy and sad dancing together, as they so often do in life. 

I hope it’s ok to say this, but I didn’t plan on loving St Luke’s as much as I do.  I genuinely thought that this temporary role could be a great opportunity to step back into the reality of what I teach, while helping my friend Mark take his family to Holden Village.  Thank you for taking me in as warmly as you have.  I’ve found my heart filling up in unexpected and much needed ways. 

I think it’s safe to say that this whole pilgrimage thing could have gone a lot of different ways.  As I reflect back on our collective journey, one thing that really stands out to me is Pastor Marks’ wisdom and courage. 

It was Pastor Mark who sensed the Spirit’s nudge to consider uprooting his family to go on an 18-month pilgrimage to Holden.  But its much more than that, Pastor Mark had amazing trust and confidence in St Luke’s and its leadership, not only that they could keep things together but thrive.  Surely, conventional wisdom would have had Pastor Mark find an ordained ELCA minister to fill in, but Pastor Mark seemed convinced that I was the right person.  And at every potential barrier to all this coalescing, Pastor Mark helped us imagine the future.

I am so excited for Pastor Mark’s return to you and the St Luke’s community.  He seems to have a deep and abiding confidence in St Luke’s.  I know I am excited to hear what Pastor Mark has learned, how he has evolved, and what directions he might see on the horizon.  I’ve been blessed to have regular contact with him while he’s been at Holden and I get the sense that Holden has been an important season.  I’m still amazed that Pastor Mark was able to imagine us all fitting together, and, I think he was right; somehow with God’s help we found a way together.  

It’s weird for me to think that for a handful of St Luke’s people I am the primary pastor they have known.  If that’s you, I want you to know that you are in great hands in this community.  St Luke’s is a healthy church… by which I mean, the community cares for each other, and dares each other to imagine our collective mission as we seek to faithfully follow the way of Jesus the Christ into our everyday lives. 

I can’t wait to co-preside and co-preach with Pastor Mark, and to welcome him home.  I am eternally grateful that he – and the leadership of St Luke’s – would entrust into my care the congregation he has taken a vow to tend to.  And I’m so happy for you that you will have a full-time pastor who can support St Luke’s in becoming the church that is needed in North Bellevue and beyond.   

I will miss you.  There will be a St Luke’s shaped void in my heart, but that part of the work of love.  To love is to know loss.  And my gratitude far outweighs my grief. Thank you for letting me serve as your pastor. 

I’ll see you on Sunday.  Remember, God delights in you, and so does our community of faith!  You are not alone.

Peace, dwight