As we enter this liminal space in the life of St. Michael’s, sharing this time of memories and parting, there will undoubtedly be anxiety as part of our mix of emotions. Certainly that’s true for me. “What will happen when Mother Leslie leaves?” you might be asking. “How do we find a new rector? Who will lead our worship? Will we be okay?” These questions are good ones to ask, but they both reflect and can exacerbate the anxiety that happens in a parish upon their rector’s leave-taking.
I wrote to you of answering a call to go to a new parish. I have accepted this new call knowing that it also means that God is calling St. Michael’s to new challenges as well, perhaps challenges that you need someone other than me to help you embrace and realize in your ministry. God is always working God’s purpose out, as a grand old hymn says. Call is the Holy Spirit leading us; our response is to follow wherever the Spirit leads.
The temptation is that we all want to see the map. We ask God, “Are we there yet? How much longer?” Abraham and Moses wandered without knowing exactly where they were going. They were called to trust God by putting one foot in front of the other. It takes faith to take those steps, and it is the only way we’ll make it to the place where God is calling us to be. God may not reveal the next step until we’ve taken the one preceding it. I have absolute faith that God is leading St. Michael’s to live into your call to be a vibrant parish where the Gospel is lived and loved. What that will look like with only be revealed as you explore the call together, one step at a time.
In this journey, St. Michael’s is blessed by an outstanding Vestry led by dedicated wardens. The Diocese of Virginia will provide guidance and support in your interim period. Most importantly, you have each other as companions on the journey. Remember that the church is shaped by much more than the rector whose name is on the sign. It is shaped in the baptismal reality that “there is one hope in God’s call to us.” (BCP p. 299)
My presence with you in the next month is to help us all to say goodbye well that we may all take the next steps in pursuing God’s call. That journey is only just beginning and requires faith. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” May God grant you grace, patience, and faith throughout your journey to be the St. Michael’s God is calling you to be.
With much love in Christ,