Sheep of the Good Shepherd
My friends and colleagues, it has been a remarkable joy to work with you over these nearly two years! I give thanks for your willingness to engage and build relationships, your discernment around creative work with the communities in which your congregations live and worship, and your nearly unfailing desire to love all people.
We are called to engage God’s call with faithfulness; we’re not called to be successful in the world’s terms. The ongoing willingness to get up and try again in the face of resistance, sabotage, and changing circumstances models Jesus’ own behavior.
You will have such challenges for the rest of your ministry, whether active or retired, and your new bishop will encounter them as well. Be faithful in your relationship with her, help her to get to know you, your congregation, and its context. Be gentle as she enters this new ministry, as you would like to receive gentleness. This is an intense learning period for everyone in this diocese, for Bishop Susan will lead in new directions, have new ideas and objectives, and let go of some existing ways and priorities, for the sake of God’s mission. Much of what is new should thrive. What doesn’t can be grieved, with decency and in good order – and then your shared work is to help the whole body seek resurrection in God’s new and unfolding future. Be gracious with failure, knowing there is always something to be learned and more abundant life to be found in its wake.
In all things, love the people, love yourself, and love the ministry you share. Keep feeding and tending the sheep – and remember that we are all sheep of the Good Shepherd himself. And may the blessing of God who creates, God who redeems, and God who continually leads us toward shalom, be with you now and always.