One year ago this week, I started unpacking books and putting them on the shelves in my office (I could triple my library and still have room on those shelves!). It’s hard to imagine that it’s been a year already, that I already feel so at home here, and that I have so much ahead of me before I’ll really feel at home. I have to keep reminding myself, this transition had to take as long as it has.

When I was finishing up the ordination process thirteen short months ago, I was also getting ready to be examined about my statement of faith by both the Des Moines Presbytery and the Presbytery of Northern Waters. One of the questions I half anticipated but never got was, “If you had to write your faith statement again six months from now, how do you think it would be different?” What was I expecting to learn in my first half a year as a full-time pastor?

I would have said that my faith statement would have included much more about prayer. The statement I wrote is all my own belief, but it’s fairly abstract, all about “God.” I was expecting something more concrete to start emerging for me during the first stretch of this ministry.

Six months came and went, and nobody asked me to rewrite. Six months after that, the question came back into my mind, and my answer has shifted. Along with something – anything – about prayer, the biggest addition to my statement of faith would be a deeper reflection on relationship. How absolutely central relationships are, not just to the business end of ministry, but to the whole of life.

I’ve found myself depending on you all in ways that I just couldn’t have anticipated, ways that threaten my own sense of self-sufficiency. As much as you trust me with the news and feelings of your lives, I’m feeling my own life supported and cared for by the relationships that make up this church. Beyond and even through the human ways that we miss the mark in our life together, I’m seeing God in our relationships. Don’t ask me to craft a coherent statement of faith about that, but it’s moving me nonetheless.

Thank you for this first year. Only 37 to go!

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