Hebrews 13:7-8 MSG
Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.
|A Pastoral Visit, 1881 Richard Norris Brooke|
October is Pastor Appreciation month in the United States . I hope that you are sharing this season not to laud false praise of your pastor, but to seriously consider the importance of pastoral oversight in the history of the church. The church has changed and is changing. In ancient times the house served as dwelling and worship center. Ministry was done out of the kitchen and in the courtyard. However by the 3rd century, dedicated buildings were constructed and liturgies were created to connect big spaces with the grandeur of God. The Institutional Church was born.
Later, the Church became centers of education and the university system developed, as well as an educated clergy. Both in the depths of theology, scripture study and organizational care, pastoral development and spiritual formation became the care plan for the congregation. This model revolutionized culture and has stood the test of time. Regardless of how the world changes, there will always be a need for pastors in all facets of community – inner city, suburban, small town and rural setting.
And so today as we look at the Hebrews passage, I hope you might think about how it is that you can celebrate the pastoral life in your community. For months I have wept with pastors who have told me that due to the C-19 Pandemic, they have missed being there for their people in worship, at the hospital, in the nursing home. Not being able to be engaged in the community and house-to-house care have been huge emotional losses for laity, but truly for pastors. No matter the setting, the pastoral life is changed.
|Worship God in Spirit and In Truth, 2011 Audrey Peaty|
But there are other changes, too. Pastors have become leaders in the bend towards equality and equity in these past months as we stand for racial justice. Together with leaders in local congregations, pastors have been leading by creating new opportunities to deal with the 400-year pandemic of racial injustice in the United States. Places of conflict in the local church regarding racial justice are fueled by denial and fragility. But we have reached a place where we cannot return to what was once the norm.
We will not be able to dial back all that has happened in the last few months. There is a long list of cultural shifts. The church is not immune to these changes, but we are beyond the point of no return; we must continue to strive forward into the vision of the beloved community as dreamed by Jesus. We need courageous lay and clergy leadership who can do this work. Your pastor may be one of those leaders. Please thank your pastor!
Rev. Dr. Todd D. Anderson, West Ohio Superintendent
Ohio River Valley District, United Methodist Church