Sunday, August 26, 2007

Last Internship Sermon

“Transitioning by Faith”
Vicar Laura Lynn
August 19, 2007

It is that time of year again. The summer is quickly winding down, for some too fast, for others too slowly. Most have the school supplies purchased, unless you are like me and put everything off till the last minute. Children are getting ready for school, young adults are getting ready for college. Here at Zion, we are getting ready for Rally day, afterburners, horseback riding trips, and the hayride. In the midst of all of this, we are also making the transition of my departure and the beginning of a new year with Vicar Jeff. It is the time of year that we all look towards with excitement, mixed with a little fear and sadness; it is transition time.

If you are like most Lutherans, you dread change. It is one of the most dirty words in our denominations language. What draws many of us to the Lutheran church is that we like things to stay the same. If we do make a change, it is typically small and includes the criteria of being our idea and must include some minor kicking and screaming. We like things to stay the same.
Yet here we are, faced with a period of many changes. There are those changes we face every year, such as a new school year or aging another year. There are also those changes that are frightfully new to us. Health crisis’, divorce, moving from our home, loss of a job. No matter what the change is, one thing is for certain; all of us in this room are in the midst of some kind of transition.

It is difficult for me to believe that I am a mere ten days away from saying goodbye to you. I’ll admit, this is one of the more difficult transitions that I have faced in recent years. Having become such a part of this family, saying goodbye has been made more difficult than I expected it would be when I first came.

In our Hebrews passage, we read of a long line of people throughout our history who have been faced with some sort of trial. We read of the great Exodus out of Egypt, The wall of Jericho falling, of Rahab, Gideon, Samuel, and the like. All of these great people throughout our history were faced with trials and transitions that were far greater than the goodbye we will say next week.

What I take from this passage and the verses preceding it is the simple phrase, “by faith.” By faith Abraham made his home in the promised land, by faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, by faith Moses left Egypt…always faced with major transitions, but always by faith.
It is only by faith that we can be faced with transitions and be comforted in knowing that Christ’s presence in with us. These great cloud of witnesses attest to that. We may not always understand the purpose of why we are faced with certain things, but we can face them head on, knowing by faith that we will be brought through our times of trial.

I will admit that last year at this time I had a very sour stomach regarding coming to internship. The fear that filled my heart and mind was far worse than even the transition into seminary. For the first time since I was three years old, I would not be in an academic setting. For the first time in my life, I would have an entire year of not only applying the things I had learned, but I would actually be in a pastoral kind of role. The thought was enough to make me keel over (and at times it did).

Imagining the mistakes that I would make, the battles I might face with cranky parishioners, the thought of preaching, chanting, and possibly not getting along with my supervisors was more than I could bear. I did not feel ready to have any sort of leadership role in a parish. Sure, I had been a Christian Education director for many years, but that was far different in my mind. This would be a horribly challenging year.

Of course, this year turned out nothing like my worst fears. I stepped into this role by faith and experienced the joy and beauty that comes with full-time ministry. I was told by the seminary the honeymoon period of internship would last approximately three months; it is now going on 12. I have loved just about every moment of being here. And I learned what it means to approach a transition by faith.

I learned that in transitioning by faith, we are called to be Witnesses. We witness to the fact that even though our time of transition may be utterly frightening, we are called to trust that God’s plan is so much greater; just as it has been throughout history.
I learned that by faith we are called to Hope. We are to have hope that although we may not always understand God’s plan, by faith we can have hope that we will be brought through our times of trial.
I learned that by faith we are called to Inclusion. We are included in a great community, which can be seen in this congregation. It is a community of believers who are sewn together by faith through Jesus Christ. We are called to be in this community to support, pray for, and love one another. It is a community that is there even when we transition into a new place.
I learned that by faith we are called to Need. We are called to need each other and to be served by the Body of Christ. No one can transition by faith without the support of others.
I learned that by faith we are called to Encourage. When faced with any of life’s transitions, we need to have encouraging feedback, whether it comes in the form of prayers, physical help, or loving words. We need to be encouraged that Christ is present in our midst through the community of believers.

I learned that by faith we are called to Respond. We are called to respond to God’s calling in our life, even if it is not what we would have wanted or expected. As I have said many times, I did not want to be a pastor. I did not want to spend my life serving God in a congregational setting. But, that is what makes it a call. We are all called by God to ministry in some form, and it is only by faith that we can discern our response.

As you can see, I learned this year to be a WHINER. Yes, as most of you know, the nickname given to me this year was the whiney Vicar. In discerning what exactly this means for me, I have decided it means far more than being a complainer. It means more than my supposed kicking and screaming about certain tasks. To me, being a whiner is my response to God. By faith, we are all called to be whiners. We are called to: witness, to hope, to include, to need, to encourage, and to respond.

So, when you think back on this year, remember. Although I was always accused of being the whiney vicar, we are all called to be whiney. And it is only by faith that we can truly be a whiny congregation. As we transition into this new year and go our separate ways, this is my prayer for you. That God would continue working in each of your lives, using you as his great cloud of witnesses. By faith you all answered God’s call to serve this community, including me. I pray as you enter this new year with Vicar Jeff, God would use you to show him what it means to be a whiner as well. Amen.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Keeping you close to my heart and in my prayers dear cyber friend as you say your final goodbys to a place you have given your heart and soul too. Now you begin your final stage of preparing to transform from a Vicar to a Ordained Minister. . . God must be smiling. You are truly touched to serve the Lord. Your last sermon was so touching. Good luck.