Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week
It’s quickly coming time to say goodbye and I hope that you will join me on August 6 to celebrate the work we have shared together in the name of Jesus Christ. Leave-taking is hard on both sides. What makes it especially hard are the strict boundaries that clergy are required to observe post leaving. We are to have no contact with any parishioner for pastoral care of any kind for three years, and then only at the invitation of the new rector or priest in charge.
So, after August 31, I can’t be with you to celebrate communion, baptisms, weddings or funerals. “Why not?” we may ask. Best I understand, is that our faith relationship is primarily with God, not the pastor. Priests are always temporary shepherds, and when they are called to minister to a different flock, the other flock does not go with them. That would be a cult of personality, not a right relationship of faith in God. So we won’t see each other again in that relationship but because I’m here in the Diocese, we will most likely see one another in different contexts, and I believe we can do that with grace and love.
My part is to let you go, treasuring and cherishing the good things we have done together; holding out the olive branch of reconciliation for the places and moments where we have hurt or misunderstood one another; and looking forward in hope and faith to seeing where God will lead you next.
Right now, your next shepherd is preparing to hear the call – please be a part of that call and make it loud and clear. This is the “little church that does.” So – do it again, in the faith, trust and hope that is and always has been St. Stephen’s.
God is with you, always. +