From The Pastor
It’s been a good start to our faith journey together. Our one-year agreement has now become a regular call. Your kindness, generosity and welcome to me and my family is inspiring and wonderful. Thank you for your confidence in me and the ministry which you perform!
Previously, I assisted two very different congregations to turn around and find long-term sustainability. There are many fond moments I recall of meeting challenges head on — and experiencing how God brought those congregations through their challenges to build life-changing ministries. But those calls were separate — and full time.
The miracle God is about in New Parish of Tampa involves the transformation of two congregations simultaneously with only a half-time pastoral call. Why the Holy Spirit takes on such challenges dumbfounds me sometimes. As the Christmas readings repeat, “and Mary pondered these things in her heart.”
The one thing I’m clear about is that the miracle underway involves the participation of every willing person. The old days – the former paradigm, of the pastor being the paid expert to handle the spirituality of the whole congregation — are over. It just doesn’t work anymore for a host of reasons better discussed at another time.
I’m beginning to see that my particular task as pastor of New Parish of Tampa (St. Paul and Faith Lutheran Churches) involves helping everyone live out their own spiritual expression of the faith in Christ which God has planted in their hearts.
How do you connect the gift of your faith with the actions that fulfill your calling in the world?
How do you live out your baptism? How do you love others as God has loved you?
How do you make forgiveness real in an often unforgiving world?
There are a lots of ways to express this question. Let me help you find the way you can make sense of your own spiritual work.
When I step back and look at this miraculous work under-way – the gift of faith working itself out in love in the world – I see one larger question for the congregation. It’s the “Why?” question. Not so much “Why should St. Paul exist?” but “Why do we or anyone else connect our faith and spirituality through St. Paul?”
I think we need to talk together a great deal about this “why.” St. Paul has a great history of leadership in Tampa. That heritage is surely part of the “why.” The better we understand it, the more we will witness the miracle of God in our midst.
2016 promises to be a wonderful faith journey. Happy New Year!
Grace and peace,
Pr. Russell Meyer
P.S. A very heartfelt thank you from my family and me for your generous Christmas gift. We were not expecting such a thing. May you all be blessed richly in the new year!