Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
(Psalms 130:1-8 ESV)
I have been pretty much absent from posting here and on the web in general for the past month. During this time I have been praying, studying and preparing for the task I will be undertaking for the next month. After 13 years from the active ministry, I have accepted an interim pastors post at my home church in Milwaukee. This is not something I have agreed to lightly, as my home church has multiple issues and quite frankly, under normal circumstances, I would never have agreed to accept this position.
I am well aware of my own failings. While during my 10 years as a full-time pastor I was very successful in leading small to moderate-sized suburban churches, the church I will now be shepherding for a short while is primarily an urban church serving the underclass of Milwaukee. Most of the congregation would be classified as poor, with a vast proportion suffering from mental illness and/or addiction issues. While these are my friends and people who I have worshiped and fellowshipped with for 13 years, their needs are so great that I feel incredibly inadequate to the task. I do not have the AODA training that I feel is really necessary to be effective in ministering to this congregation. I work full time at a company where I do not have the freedom to be able to drop everything and leave at a moments notice when someone needs their pastor to be with them. All I have I my faith, my particular skill set in preaching and teaching, and my desire to serve and help them during this time of transition.
I am reminded and take strength in the example of David when he rose to lead Israel. David was no saint by any stretch of the imagination. While he was a person of deep faith, he had multiple failings that the Bible does not gloss over. And he was aware of his shortcomings, as we can see in the above Psalm. But he knew that God was a forgiving, loving God, who would help him in his own times of weakness and help him to be the king, the leader, God had called him to be.
I take comfort in knowing that God can use even me, filled with doubts and faults that I am, to help my church get through this time of Transition. Over this next month, as Sunday after Sunday I stand in the chancel sharing my faith and helping others to come to a better understanding of their own, I ask God, and I ask each of you to pray for me and the congregation that for this next month I will lead, as together we come to understand God’s will for our congregation and help us to continue to grow and be the Church God calls us to be.
Your brother in Christ,