At the church’s January Session meeting (our church council of ruling elders) I submitted a “Senior Pastor’s Report” which, rather than give a summary of what I had been doing, provided some thoughts on how privileged I feel to be part of the MPC family. At the suggestion of several of the Session members, I’m publishing it in the Contact this week.
I always feel the pressure to say something profound and moving in my pastor’s report. Otherwise, it’s just a report on what I do all day, which is fine, but probably somewhat less than interesting to read (and not so fun to write either).
This report is different in that it was less difficult to think of a meaningful thing to say because I haven’t been in a session meeting since October (we skipped December and I was at a Presbyterian CREDO conference in Louisiana in November). So we’ve been through a season of profound disappointment since last I made a report to Session, which is to say that a certain narcissistic businessman/reality television star became president, and having won the election, he went on to appoint racist and/or inexperienced candidates for top positions in his administration, all the while tweeting the nation into a series of diplomatic emergencies and possibly even a renewed global nuclear arms race.
It has been a time of fearful uncertainty, but if for me the dark cloud of Trump’s ascendency has a silver lining it is this: I got to pass these days as part of the Montclair Presbyterian Church family. It has been especially meaningful for me to experience the grace of Thanksgiving, the expectation of Advent, the joy of Christmas and the hope of a new year at a time when, outside the story of faith, the news has been so bleak.
By clinging to the spiritual cycle of the holy season, I was able to be grateful, hopeful, joyful, and even occasionally optimistic; but I could not have found such spiritual solace alone. The gifts of the season are gifts that come from a community’s shared experience of the sacred, and living my way through these difficult times as your pastor has given me extra joy.
The first Sunday of the new year marks the anniversary of the Sunday in 2014 when you were kind enough to invite me to serve as your pastor. I was grateful to be joining this church family three years ago, but I had no idea then how important you would be to me or how much your company would sustain me as together we walk though strange and difficult times.
I am grateful.