[Editor’s note: Below is a reflection from Pastor Kris Capel from the September, 2014 newsletter (reprinted with permission)]
It has certainly been a couple of months filled with big news here at Easter Lutheran.
In rapid succession you received two significant announcements: Pastor Paul’s retirement in a year, and Pastor Kevin’s new call in Hibbing, MN.
We will miss RevKev and all of the energy he brings to Easter. Over the 14 years Kevin has served this community, he has poured his heart into the lives of so many people, shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ and worked tirelessly to “grow in faith and carry on the work of Jesus Christ.” There will no doubt be a hole left at Easter as Kevin follows God’s call.
Pastor Paul is around for another year, so we get to love him a little longer.
And you might be asking the question — “Is anything going to stay the same?”
It’s a great question! Some people love change. Some people hate change. As we navigate through this change together, I want to remind all of us of a few very important things.
First, this is God’s church. Easter Lutheran has gone through a handful of pastoral transitions over the years. Each Pastor who has served Easter has brought their own set of gifts and blessings to this community. Because of those pastors, we have grown in new ways, served in new ways and built relationships with people we would have otherwise never known.
The call of Pastor is a call to the whole church, and we are always encouraged to be open to where God may be calling next. But the bottom line is that this church belongs to God. There is a great hymn in the Lutheran Book of Worship called “The Church of Christ, in Every Age.” As I write this, the first verse rings in my head:
The church of Christ, in every age
Beset by change, but Spirit-led
Must claim and test its heritage
And keep on rising from the dead.
This hymn, penned in 1971, reminds me that from generation to generation the church is no different from the world in that we are “beset by change” in every aspect of our lives. God dreamed up Easter Lutheran Church and has set our course in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Change is inevitable but our mission is not. It is connected to God’s enduring love which NEVER CHANGES.
Second, we will grieve, and that is OK. Just as people grieve, communities also grieve. We grieved when Jim retired. We will grieve when Kevin leaves and when Paul retires. It is important to talk to one another about how we will move forward and honor where everyone is on our own journey. And as we grieve, it is important to remember that God is in the middle of our community.
As Paul writes in Ephesians 4:15-16:
We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Third, we are EASTER people. As our name boldly announce, we are people who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In all of life there are little deaths along the way. But after death, there is always resurrection. There are always new hopes, new dreams, new visions and new beginnings. So as people who proclaim the resurrection we move forward in the confident hope that God through Jesus Christ goes before us.
In other words, we do not grieve as people without hope. Just as Kevin is called to new adventures, God is already working to prepare the perfect Pastor for this time in the life of Easter Lutheran Church. We will faithfully work to discern God’s call in the midst of this change, and we will embrace the future into which God is calling us.
In the meantime, there is work to be done. There are ears that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. There are hungry people to be fed. There are children who need love. There are babies to be welcomed through the sacrament of Baptism. There are broken hearts that need love. There is a community that gathers around Word and Sacrament to proclaim to the world that Christ is Risen.
We give thanks to God for this incredible church — that is the Christ of Christ in every age. We give thanks to God for the resurrection, remind us that God is always at work making all things new.
Pastor Kris Capel is the lead pastor at Easter Lutheran Church in Eagan, Minnesota.