I love this time of year. I fear this time of year. I love the month of May because it is filled full with celebration. I fear this month because it is sometimes over the top with things to do. But there is one thing that happens every year that reminds me of what our ministry is all about, children and the youth.
Every year at the end of Sunday school the kids put together an art project and everyone signs their name to it. As you can imagine, the art is not something from an art museum. It is more in line with the craft project that elementary kids bring home from school for special holidays. They have pasted together different items and written on them in their own childlike hand writing. Usually it includes some saying, a piece of scripture and their names. These pieces of art are loved by a parent or pastor because we know that they were made and given in love.
Over the years, like a parent, I have my collection of these items in my office. I keep them and admire them during the year as a reminder of what my responsibility as a pastor as well as to know that this congregation is shaping their hearts and minds in our community of faith. As a shepherd of the sheep, these little guys are under my care. And as a shepherd, I am very much aware of how little I have direct contact with them and am grateful to Diane Thomas and all the people who do see and talk to them on a weekly basis. I want them to know how much God loves them. We can never tell them about God’s love enough.
It is also a time of year when we confirm the youth of our church. They have spent three long years studying about the life and teachings of the church. They have shared time in the classroom together and grown closer through their ups and downs. They have bonded. They are not necessarily as much theological scholars as they are practitioners of the faith. They are beginning to learn the complexities of what it means to be follower of Jesus. They are learning that God’s love wins when all else fails. We pray as a congregation that the tending to the spiritual soil of these youth that they will continue to grow in faith and love as they participate as part of the fellowship of believers.
I do love this time of year, because I get to witness the fruits of our time together. I get the opportunity to appreciate how lucky I am as a pastor to have adults who care for and love our children and youth. I will get to sit at this year’s Synod Assembly (at some point) with Noah Eggleston who grew up in this church and has now graduated college. Noah is now a leader in the church on a Synodical level. God, I am so lucky to be a pastor.
This month I celebrate 35 years of ministry. It has been my pleasure to be a pastor. My good friend from high school wrote to me on LinkedIn and wondered how I had “snowed” this congregation for this many years. I ask the same question myself. I am so blessed to serve the church, particularly this congregation.
So, it may be busy this time of year. But the busyness is full of blessings. You know that most when you sit down at the end of the day and think of the kids, the youth, and the now adults who have come to know and love the God who loves them more. I am aware of how lucky I am and blessed we are – I am reminded by art work in my office.
In His Service,Pastor Mitchell