What can I find? Where am I looking? How shall I go? Who will know me there?
I recently moved. And I recently became the pastor of not one but two churches. I am new to town. And so everyone seems to be a stranger. I don’t know who they are, I don’t know how they live, I don’t know where they have fun, or where they mourn. All I know is that they are members of my church. Though my bishop said he was sending the new pastors to communities where there happened to be a church, he also sent 3 other pastors new to my town. So, we’ll see.
I am beginning to recognize the streets, the way they connect and turn away from each other. If I was thrown in town somewhere, I could probably find my way back. Even though a compass wouldn’t hurt. But it wouldn’t help too much, many roads are just that confusing.
So, the recognition I deserve… I don’t deserve anything. And my church members all recognize me already. It’s me that wants to begin to recognize them.
I want to recognize them. Not just their faces and be able to recall their names, but I want to be able to recognize their emotions. Their fears. Their griefs. Their connections. Their relationships. Their tensions.
I want to know them.
And that will take some doing. That will take some revelations. Not only of their selves, but of myself also. I want to recognize the truth in each individual. I want to explore the mystery in each of them.
It is the best part about a congregation, it has a story to tell. Not just the story of who was pastor when, and who married whom, and who left when she got angry. But the story of how the church grew, and built, and how they are still there and faithful to the church, to the building, to the place where their fathers taught them to love and their mothers taught them to pray.
What a rich, vibrant, story. And I don’t know anything but the surface of it. Numbers will only tell you so much. It is the colors, the imagination, the ebb and flow of discontent and happiness that carries the story along. It is a mystery.
And I have been gifted with becoming part of this story. This story that will continue to develop and grow through my time here. This story began a long time ago. And my life glanced across it for a brief time, but now I have returned to be a new, exciting part of this story. And I am blessed for it.
So now. The story. The truly basic story. Love God, Love People. All else is built on that. As a Church we are blessed to be able to enter into the story of our God. Our God who loves us and cares for us, and knows our mysteries, and still lets us live.