We are now entering into the month of August. The summer so far has been great. However, it has also been a time of great change, or at least it has been for me. On July 9th, I officially started as the long-term pastor at Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sellersville, PA. This transition from being a pastor at one congregation to two congregations has been interesting for me. So far, this transition has been very exciting and smooth. However, it has been different for me, especially on Sunday mornings. It has been slightly difficult for me to adjust from presiding at one congregation to now presiding at two services at two different congregations. I assume that some of you have also noticed this adjustment and have had certain feelings around it. Mostly, I grieve the time that I miss talking with congregants after my service at Faith Lutheran and the time I miss before the service at Jerusalem Lutheran. I grieve this time because part of the reason I feel called to pastoral ministry is because of the pastoral relationships that are formed through pastoral interactions. Thus, this time before and after worship is invaluable. As a result of this change, I want to emphasize in this newsletter the importance of communication. My main goal is to be spending time/communicating with you all as much as possible with the time that I have.
However, communication is also a two-way street. There may be times when you have not talked with me for a while. In those moments, I want you all to know that you are always welcome to reach out to me, and it can be for anything. You do not even need to have a reason. It can be just to talk. It can be to schedule a visit. It can even be just to ask a question, and no question is silly. The other day I had a congregation member who asked why we do the Prayers of the Intercession in the format of a petition and a congregational response. I told them that another name for the Prayers of Intercessions is the “prayers of the people.” When we respond at the end of each prayer, we are responding and praying together as a church. The prayers are not just from the pastor or the assisting minister but from the whole congregation! Then most of the time, the prayers that we pray are based on prayers that are given to other congregations from the ELCA. So, when we pray the prayers on Sunday morning, we know that Lutheran congregations across the United States are praying similar prayers at that exact time. So, these prayers are really the “prayers of the people!” The person who asked me this question thought this answer to be interesting. However, if they had never asked, then they would never have known. All questions are important.
Communication is important and scriptures support this. On July 16th, in our gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus tells the parable of the sower which speaks to the importance of hearing and listening. Listening is a major step of communication, and it leads us then to responding, and we can respond in many ways. We respond directly. We respond in prayer. We respond by going out into the world and serving others, and when we respond we are brought closer to God and to each other. Through Communication, God’s hope for us is a stronger community that is equipped to serve each other and the world. So, let us communicate! Let us respond! Let us in this time of transition lift up our prayers. Lord, in this time of transition, we ask that you continue to lift our voices to be heard and to respond. We ask that you strengthen our relationships and form new bonds in us, and we ask that you continue to lead as a community to where we need to be.
Hear us, O God
C. Your mercy is great.
P.S.- If ever need to contact me, my phone number is 217-820-3001 (call or text) and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that I may not get back to you right away, but I will respond as soon as I am able.
Peace and Blessings, Pastor Ethan Doan