“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get their some day.” (A.A. Milne Winnie-the-Pooh) That “some day” has arrived for Lutheran Church of the Master as we welcome our new pastor, David Elliott, his wife Becky and their son August. Pastor Elliott’s first weekend in the pulpit, and August’s first time to participate in the “Blessing of the Children” is October 26-27, Reformation weekend.
It took longer than expected, but the wait was well rewarded.
Pastor Elliott and his family will be welcomed by people who love their church, are active in its ministry, gather weekly to pray, hear the word preached, receive the sacrament and love to sing. He will quickly discover a very welcoming church: welcoming one another and visitors on Sunday, welcoming children every day of the week to our Master’s Christian Preschool, welcoming neighbors to the food pantry and welcoming a community in need of space for a meeting.
We endured a time of grief following the sudden death of Pastor Moser on Christmas Eve, 2016. God never left us providing each one another’s shoulder on whom to shed tears.
Pastor Elliott’s leadership will have challenges unlike any previous pastor has faced. The church faces cultural shifts over which we have no control underpinning an accelerating decline in church membership and Sunday worship. Michael Binder writes “we live in a culture that makes it hard for people to imagine and be led by God, (at a time) when faith might help…but (is) assumed to be optional, and there are endless options before us.” The ELCA’s Office of Research and Evaluation projects a steep decline in membership in the years ahead. (https://faithlead.luthersem.edu/will-the-elca-will-be-gone-in-30-years/)
But the faithful members of Lutheran Church of the Master and their very capable new pastor guided by God’s grace and presence are well equipped to face every challenge ahead. God’s promises in Christ are constant and unfailing.
Bishop Miller told the church council following Pastor Moser’s death that Lutheran Church of the Master is a “plum” congregation; it will be easy he said to fill this vacancy. We may have been easy, but we were also selective wanting the very best.
Our patience and discernment honored us mightily.
The hymn by Danish Pastor N.F.S. Gundtvig, imprinted in our minds from hearing it sung many times over speaks well of the days ahead for Lutheran Church of the Master
“O day full of grace that now we see appearing on earth’s horizon, bring light from our God that we may be abundant in joy this season, God, shine for us now in this dark place, your name on our hearts emblazon.
“O day full of grace, O blessed time, our Lord on the earth arriving; then came to the earth that light sublime, great joy for us all retrieving; for Jesus all mortals did embrace, all shame and despair removing.
“As birds of the morning sing their praise, God’s fatherly love we cherish, for giving to us this day of grace, for life that shall never perish. The church God has kept two thousand years, and hungering souls did nourish.”
One other word: thank you dear friends for the gracious and kind welcome gave to Maureen and me during this time of transition. God blessed us greatly through each of you.