Well, as Jesus said, in agony from the cross, ‘It is finished.’ I know the past few months were not nearly as agonizing as those last minutes of Jesus life – but they sure were awkward, as was yesterday morning’s service at Upper Sackville United Church. I think I managed the occasion with grace and integrity.
How is one to facilitate and support the disentangling of two communities of people who are intertwined in relationships within the larger community? How does one liturgically end two relationships in one service? How does one step away from ministry to a community of people that one has come to care for when requests for care continue fall on my desk?
Perhaps only with the wisdom of the article that I quoted in my reflection yesterday?
Divorce isn’t easy for anyone, whether you were the one who decided the marriage was over or you were the one who received the news. Regardless of your situation, you are responsible for your actions after the decision has been made. Strive to act with compassion and kindness towards yourself and others. Divorce is hard enough as it is, there’s no need to make it harder.The End of a Relationship: The Leavers and The Left
What occurred over these past few months was the realization that this situation was not only the separation and divorce of two congregations, but a separation and divorce of one congregation from their minister – and that has been challenging for me.
I have struggled mightily with my role in this whole situation and while, as some of the folk at Upper Sackville suggested, ‘there just wasn’t enough money’, I am left to wonder, what is the church if there is no ministry? Simply a building? If a community cannot afford ministry but thinks it can maintain a building what does this say about what it values? These challenging questions run alongside my thoughts about what I was prepared to bring to the table to ensure continued ministry to a two-point pastoral charge.
If I am honest, it will continue to be challenging for me as I strive to be responsible for my actions after the decision has been made. I will have to end individual pastoral relationships and constantly remind myself that some situations are no longer my responsibility – not easy to do when one is geared to respond and care.
Thankfully vacation time is almost upon us, and the border has re-opened! Jen and I can again get to the shore and enjoy the trailer and the company of family and friends – time to rest, reflect and renew before another busy fall.
Thank you to all of you who have held me in care these past months. Thank you to those who are stepping into the pulpit to offer leadership during my time away this summer. And thank you to all of you who make up the congregation the Sackville United Church – who step forward in faith and hope, this day and every day.
And to those of the Upper Sackville United Church congregation with whom my relationship ceases as June comes to a close, please know that stepping away is not easy for me. Not stopping to visit when passing by, not calling when I hear of a crisis in your family, not being able to respond when asked to provide leadership at one milestone or another, this is me being responsible for my actions after the decision has been made. May God bless you on the journey that is before you.
I’ve been up since 4AM (as the photo above attest to) working on a funeral reflection and liturgy for Karen Sear’s funeral which will take place on Wednesday. This afternoon I will be doing several pastoral visits.
On Tuesday following the Preacher’s Help Group I’ll be off to Moncton for a meeting and then back in time for two pastoral visits in the afternoon.
Wednesday morning be filled with final preparations for the funeral at 2PM. You can participate via the live-stream feed from Jones Funeral Home by following this link. At 5PM I will host our next to last Virtual Community Supper before we pause for the Summer.
Thursday morning Rasta goes in for his summer grooming and following a pastoral visit over lunch I’ll be focusing on writing a liturgy and sermon for our first Summer Sunday Gathering of 2021. Note: we begin at 10AM on Sunday June 27th!.
Friday and Saturday are days off and I expect to be at the shore – NOT staining a deck!
On Sunday we will gather for our last Sunday Gathering as the two-point Sackville Pastoral Charge and our first Summer Sunday Gathering at 10AM as we mark World Pride Sunday and our Treasurer, Chrystal Schipper-Everill’s birthday!