And Time Moves On

Ebenezer Lutheran Church

Among the important items on my bookshelf at Ebenezer, in addition to nine Bibles, is this resource: Temporary Shepherds: A Congregational Handbook for Interim Ministry. The author retells his experience on a 30mile hike in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

“We came upon the perfect spot to set down our packs and catch our breath, a lookout point with a panoramic view. From this vantage point we could look back whence we had come, now several miles in the distance. We could also look out across a beautiful valley 2,000 feet below us, as well as toward our destination to the north where the massive Camel’s Hump beckoned. It was a moment which we could always rememberappreciating where we had been, enjoying where we were and anticipating where we were going.”

Isn’t that a great description of the interim journey you and I are sharing?

Just before I arrived in September of 2016, the congregation had received the resignation of Pastor Brooks in July. There was comfort with Pastor Bauser’s ministry continuing for a short while, aware that he would likely be called elsewhere as part of his call at Ebenezer. With one pastor having left, and the other expected to leave eventually, it was important for the Ebenezer familyinChrist to come to a sense of closure. Honest feelings of loss or even confusion were a normal part of this new reality. Importantly, I trusted that the congregation was moving forward in a healthy way by accepting a new relationship with me as the interim senior pastor.

I certainly understood there had been struggles and achievements, decisions di=cult to make, and accomplishments that spoke well of faith-hardiness and team work.

And then there was the great learning. The tenure of a pastor shapes the identity of Ebenezer for a time, but only for a time. And time moves on. Appreciating “where we had been” must move to “enjoying where we are.”

I’m grateful for the positive energy of these three descriptions of the interim journey: “appreciating,” “enjoying,” and “anticipating.”In the DNA of Ebenezer there is a commitment to love and care for brothers and sisters in Christ in our household of faith, and, at the same time, to reach out to others in the name of Jesus. Sometimes all of that is diffcult when feelings are hurt or actions are misunderstood. It is very important in the time of interim to mend what is broken, fix what is wrong, and heal what is ill. That is the work Christ calls all of us to tend to while “enjoying where we are.”

It is then that the Body of Christ called Ebenezer will be “anticipating where we are

going – the calling of a new pastor!” Here at Ebenezer disciples acknowledge that “forward” is the only direction we can go now. The sight in the rear view mirror is fine, but the larger, brighter, clearer view is ahead. As kids ask barely out of the driveway, “Are we there yet?”

The wise parent (or even an interim pastor) will answer, “No, but we’re on our way. May God continue to bless this journey!”

-Pastor Mel Amundson
Interim Senior Pastor