Well, I’ve cleaned out the office and turned in my keys. I guess it’s official now. But I can’t say enough how you all here at Abiding Savior have impacted me and my family. What a blessing you all have been to us – to me in my ministry among you.
I’ve said before how when I stop doing this church-stuff, one of the things I’ll miss most is sermon preparation. And I’m still baffled how some come back week after week and among other things, hear me talk about what I’ve processed through the prior week.
Actually I think I do this preaching-thing mostly for me. The planning process helps me listen to the Spirit. It gives me some space to think-through some of the important things. And the writing of those thoughts, the organizing process of getting these ideas into some coherent message… And the speaking of this thing, the process of getting these nebulous ideas into the world… all this helps me make some sense of this wondrous world; both the physical one as well as the Spiritual one.
This is certainly reflective of my pre-dispositions. In those written aptitude tests they give you in high school and college, I seemed to always indicate a high aptitude for things like psychology, counseling, anthropology, sociology, and the clergy world (huh… who knew?!). Seems I’ve always leaned towards the world of “people”, the mind, and the relationship between the two. If I had to put all this into a topic sentence: I just find this journey of life deeply fascinating!
I heard a quote recently: “I’m not religious because I’m ignorant. I’m religious because I’m in awe!” Now, ironically, I don’t consider myself very religious (just ask the altar guild)… but I am in awe! For me, God is not “up there” somewhere, but right here – around us, in our time and space… in our actions, in our words, in our thoughts and lives.
I see God in the creation itself, in the world around us, in the natural world for sure; in the world of plants and animals, in the world of things and people, in the world of sky and spirit.
I’m in awe of God – and in people too! I’m in awe of you all! Of God in you… In your interactions, in your prayers, in your songs and your singing.
Over the last twenty-plus years, I’ve been a part of things that lean one towards the Spirit; off-and-on healing work, leading worship, praying with people, being with people during mile-stone life events, hearing people in their life-challenges, etc. And in all this, I’ve learned to recognize the presence of the Spirit. I have recognized the presence of the Spirit in worship among you! And this is part of my “awe”. You’ve all been a part of this “awe”!
I want to say Thank You to you all for these wonderful twelve-plus year stay among you. This place – the space where we’ve gathered – with you… and your good spirits and energy, and your good humor… all this has come to feel like home! You all have come to feel like family!
Like many families, this one has it’s own familiar character as well; There are the patriarchs and matriarchs – the elders of the community, those whose words and personalities carry some weight. Then there are the children – the babies and little ones. It’s always good to hear the sounds of little ones here among us- signs of life and family! There are the family “pillars”… the ones that others know they can lean on, that will be there for you. And of course like every family, this community has its own “eccentric” personalities – those with their own… shall we say “unique style” (you know who you are). This family has members from different backgrounds and life-experiences. This is your strength – your diversity!
In all this – you are bound together. The reason you all to “together” well is because you’re a healthy family! While we all may not be completely healthy as individuals (unless you’re lucky enough to be one of the eccentric ones!)… but together, though… as a community, you’re healthy! You’re healthy together! You bring out the best in each other! You care for each other. You love each other! You share mutual respect for each other! You take time to listen to each other, you don’t shut each other out!
Remember this! Remember who you are. Remember to keep doing this. Because this really is God’s call. Remember God’s presence is with you all!
The Spirit is here! Among you… around you… and within you! Continue to let God dwell in the midst of this wonderfully diverse and life-affirming family! Let God’s light continue to shine; as you warmly welcome new people, as you speak out for God’s justice in a world that needs to hear and see this!
As you live out your faith – at home, at work, in the world in general – as you encounter those that don’t look like you, don’t sound like you, don’t act like you… continue to let the nobler ideals of the Gospel be the ideals that guide you all… this family of God! Continue to be open to the Spirit of God, allowing it to lead you further onto the higher paths… continue to be the people of light!
So when new people come – and they will – they’ll know right off who you really are, what you really stand for, what you believe! They’ll know you believe in the Spirit of God! That you believe in the God of Light and hope. That you believe in the deep Mystery!
It’s been a real pleasure being here with you all! It’s been my honor being your pastor. With deep gratitude we – my family and I – say Thank you! Thank you for the gifts over the years; gifts of life and love and wonderful memories! Thank you also for the gifts we all received on our last day among you… such wonderful things! We shall treasure them all! They mean more than you will ever know!
We leave not only this wonderful space, but you – this wonderful community of heart and Spirit! We take this warmth with us (we’ll need all the warmth we can get!). And I hope we leave with your blessing as we follow God’s Spirit. We leave calling you friends! God bless you all – you wonderful people!
Pastor Chad Kline