The lectionary text read this past Sunday by Deacon Ida is from a remarkable chapter in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. I want to strongly suggest that you read it over and again not just this week but every week until the search for a new pastor is completed. I say this because of two things. First, because it is simply remarkably powerful scripture. Second, because we all know you are about to be tested.
Here’s the verse from that second chapter I have in mind:
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy,
2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.Philippians 2:1-4
I am about to step out of the circle called Riverside after leading you for 28 years. Your leaders are working diligently to fill the pulpit and provide an interim pastor so they can then launch a search team for a permanent replacement. This is going to take time which means you will need to be patient. This is not going to be easy which means you should roll up your sleeves and offer your service, be it collecting an offering or cleaning up after Koinonia. I now want to put into caps what is pivotal in those verses just cited: BE OF THE SAME MIND, HAVING THE SAME LOVE, BEING IN FULL ACCORD AND OF ONE MIND.
How in the world do we make that happen? The answer is in the third and fourth verses. Be humble. Be helpful. Be positive and consider the interests of others as important as your own. Do not gossip. Do not raise your voice or disrespect anyone, particularly those who are volunteering their time to sort through this process and find persons to lead. Attend worship and do so with the joy of Christ overflowing in your hearts.
The circle will be unbroken if you do that. People step into and out of the circle of fellowship all the time. But the circle does not have to be broken. Find a way to achieve consensus. Do not give naysayers, backbiters, gossips or negative people your time. I don’t believe we have many of these at Riverside but any human institution is going to have folks like that. Keep your eyes on the prize.
This community of faith is worthy of your best efforts. May the Spirit of God provide you peace so you are not anxious but hopeful. You are and ever will be in my prayers. ~PSTR