If I didn’t know any better, I might think I was terminal. Over the past couple weeks, a fair amount of people have come to me in passing and asked how I’m doing. Are you ok, Pastor? How’s it going—everything alright? Did you survive last week? I’ve been keeping you in my prayers. In any other situation, hearing these questions and statements would leave me concerned if not troubled. Yet, so far as I can tell, I’m ok. Whether it’s the caffeine or the fit hasn’t hit the shan, I feel well. Wondering what I should write on recently, I thought, given the communal concern, I guess I should address the elephant in the building—does that make me Dumbo?—as much as I can at this time. I was laughing with some parishioners prior to worship yesterday about being called “The Remaining Reverend.” But in all seriousness, everything is going well at this time. The ship hasn’t sank—in spite of the torrential downpour Sunday morning, that caused (what I’m told is) the first ever cancellation of Austin’s Cap 10K marathon. I guess all the prayers for rain finally accumulated into a flooded response. But honestly, I’m just plugging along as usual. A little bit more workload than a couple weeks ago, but nothing unmanageable nor worth complaining. Keep in mind that, though this is different than where I was a year and a half ago, it’s not my first rodeo. And more than that, I’m blessed to be supported by such an excellent staff who are each and altogether doing a phenomenal job. Continual kudos to Pete for assembling such a competent and cohesive team. Alongside my colleagues, hear my thanks to you all. THANK YOU! So many of you have come to me and offered your care and support in this time of transition. Thank you for being aware of the potential for burnout, and keeping me in your prayers. Far too many pastors, unfortunately, never hear this kind of affirmation and support from those whom they are called to serve. Thank you for your assistance, patience, assurance—it means the world to me and my family.
As far as what the future of pastoral leadership looks like at St. Martin’s, I don’t have an answer to that at this time. If you find it, let me know 😉 Our church council, with the guidance of the synod, will be working to determine the next steps of that process in the upcoming weeks and months. I trust their leadership, and encourage you to take any questions you might have to them. Remember, we’re not in a sprint to some unforeseen finish line. With Easter right around the corner—literally less than two weeks away—we all have enough to keep us busy in the meantime. Side note: If you haven’t done so yet, get your tickets for the Easter Pancake Breakfast hosted by our youth ($6/person, $20/family). Whatever comes to pass, and whenever that may happen, I hope and trust it will be the working of the Holy Spirit. As one who is no less a stranger to anxiety than the next person, the temptation is to try and take control to find the right solution ASAP. That, however, is not faithfulness. Now is a time for us to surrender ourselves to God, enter into prayer, renew our ministries—all core to the season of Lent—and prepare our hearts and minds for the nearing joy of Easter. How fitting?! I say this, just as eager to see what the future holds as everyone else. Let’s let Christ take the lead on the future for St. Martin’s and we work on following as the disciples we are called to be. We’re in good hands.
This past weekend, I was joking with someone about my feeling terminal given all the questions and concerns by those in the congregation. Snickering at my poor attempt for humor, the person responded: “Think of it as terminally blessed.” The poignancy of his response immediately struck me. Or maybe it was the sheet of rain pouring out of the heavens along 290 between Hye and Johnson City. It wasn’t a criticism against what I had said, but rather a recasting of it in a different light. OMG! He’s absolutely right! I am, right now—at this time and in this place—extremely blessed. I’m terminal, just not in the way I had playfully postured. I consider myself to be blessed here with you all. I am blessed to be welcomed into this faith community. Blessed to be building and nurturing relationships with you. Blessed with so many opportunities to share in a variety of ministries with you. Blessed to experience and learn things I would never encounter elsewhere. Blessed by you in your loving care and support. Thirteen months ago, I could’ve never imagined where I would be today. Had you foretold it as such, I likely would’ve told you not to bet on that bracket. It’ll bust pretty quickly. That being said, the Spirit never ceases to amaze me. Never say never. Thank you for your prayers and support—not just for me, but for all of our staff and leaders in the congregation. No church is without its issues or problems—even Jesus had his to deal with along the way. Still, I am grateful for you all and the blessings you are for me. Thank you.
– Pastor Andrew