It’s New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2016. For many it’s been a year that couldn’t end soon enough. Even so, there has been a lot of great things that have happened this past year. My brother got married to the love of his life in September. My wife Allison was ordained in early November and is now serving as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Nebraska. I was also consecrated as a deacon in early November, and am serving as the Director for Stewardship of the Nebraska Synod.
I had originally planned to write and share some thoughts on our ordination and consecration back in November, but given events and news around the time, I just didn’t have the heart to. Well, with some space and the joy of being in the midst of the Twelve Days of Christmas, here’s what I know now.
- Allison and I had a wonderful weekend. It was such a joy to be able to share a few days with our family, friends, and a number of fellow leaders of faith and the church gathered together in person and through the wonders of cyberspace. To all who were a part of it, near or far, thank you.
- Having not one, but two, great professors from Luther Seminary be able to make the trip out to Washington to preach at our services was a gift, thank you Dr. Terri Elton and Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis.
- Allison and I are both greatly blessed by two terrific home congregations, St. Andrew’s Lutheran (Bellevue, WA) and First Lutheran (Poulsbo, WA) whose pastors and congregations celebrated the work of the Holy Spirit with us. Thank you for the hospitality, support, and being the Body of Christ together.
- Ministry, like most things in life, is not an individual thing. It’s something that is built on and through relationships and community. That was evident throughout the weekend- through our families, through our pastor friends and fellow rostered ministers/leaders of the church, through our long time friends who have been a part of our journeys from birth to high school to college to grad school to seminary, to life post-seminary and everything else in between.
- God is clearly up to something. Allison and I have been called into our unique vocations, just as I believe all people are called into their unique vocations.
- When the Holy Spirit moves, it calls us to pay attention. Hence, now we’re in Nebraska, and we are both grateful for the warm welcome here, as well as for all of the love and support in Washington.
- There are some fantastic bishops in the church. I am excited to serve alongside (and under) Bishop Brian Maas in Nebraska and that he was able to preside at Allison’s ordination and my consecration. I am also grateful for Bishop Rick Jaech from the Southwestern Washington Synod, my home synod, who was able to assist, and who gave me great opportunities to serve over the previous year in the Northwest.
- Some of the best advice I have ever received about ministry was repeated over this fantastic weekend: “Love the people,” “be good,” and “always say thank you.”
- No matter what lies ahead in our ministry together, Allison and I believe that we are doing and called to be a part of God’s work in the world, together. That matters. That makes the good days great. It makes the challenging days bearable. It makes the darker days a little brighter. And it makes the bright days overflow.
Thank you all for being a part of this network.
Thank you for serving faithfully in your vocations.
Thank you for helping me find hope and be positive in the midst of moments of doubt.
And most importantly, thank you for being a part of this work and life together.
God’s peace and blessings to you, and Happy New Year!