If you are from Bethel Lutheran Church in Cupertino and did not see the email I sent out this morning, I informed the congregation that I will be leaving Bethel in mid-October.
If you are reading about this for the first time, I apologize for the shock of these words. I accepted a call to be the next senior pastor at Community Lutheran Church in Las Vegas Nevada. The decision to leave Bethel was personal. Rachel and I are concerned about my long term health and the current schedule I am keeping. I have gained 50lbs since moving to Bethel and I do not have the time to exercise more and eat at home (healthily) on most days. This is the hardest decision of my pastoral career because of my strong feelings for the people of Bethel.
I first served Community Lutheran Church after I graduated from seminary and will return the congregation I served so many years ago.
With that being said… change is hard.
I understand if you don’t believe that this is hard on me too.
There are lots of ways to react to stress and change. Some eat, some fast. Some become angry and others passive. And the list goes on.
After letting my heart and head get the best of me (that happens sometimes) I turn to God.
I am reminded of the Psalm that Martin Luther used as inspiration for his famous (and very Lutheran hymn) “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It is Psalm 46.
Verse one of that psalm tells me everything I need to know about God…
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
God alone is my safe place when life is uncertain. God alone is the one who will be there all of my days and at the end of my days.
All I can do as a pastor is point to God and trust that God is a promise keeper. (Spoiler: God is reliable)
I am also reminded of the words of Paul that come with a promise.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Paul reminds us that instead of worrying or having anxiety in times of uncertainty we should turn to prayer. The simple act of lifting your concerns to the One who is always listening has a benefit. Did you see it when you were reading the verse?
The God of peace (not anxiety or worry) will watch over (actually guard) your heart and your mind. As a pastor once said, “If you have time to worry, you have time to pray.” I choose the latter.
These will days of prayer for me. I hope that you will join me.
God bless you all,