I love gifts! Don’t you?
I am writing this on the last morning of October. Yes, I know what tonight is! In a few hours, our Small Group will join us in front of our house, eating Chili (“Grandma Norris’s Chili!!!”), cornbread and (maybe) a few pieces of candy as we greet people from our neighborhood and pray for God’s blessing upon them as they Trick or Treat.
But, my thoughts this morning are far more about yesterday. I have realized in the past 24 hours that none of us could have imagined back in January what would happen on the last weekend of October.
What happened? Stone Ridge Church asked Tom Burks to succeed me as Sr. Pastor. And he accepted! It’s hard to imagine anyone more excited than me about this decision. Early this year, our Elders and I struggled with the question of when to begin the work to find a new pastor. None of us expected some “Aha!” moments by God, which brought the Elders to a unanimous decision to recommend Tom. None of us guessed that it would move along so quickly, but we are all rejoicing in God's obvious timetable. He alone knows what the future holds and He brought us to this quick decision for a reason.
The transition will formally begin on January 1, 2017. We expect it to take most or all of next year, but Tom and I have been talking for weeks about what it will look like. As the retiring pastor, my heart is full of hope and expectation!
You know, St. Paul wrote that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. That means it’s still a blessing to receive. This pastoral transition is a huge gift from God to Stone Ridge Church and to me. I have longed for a church that continues to find ways to reach people with the love of Christ in rapidly changing times. I think Tom is the man to lead us into that future. Game on!
Speaking of giving, we begin a new series at Stone Ridge this weekend, simply called “Gifts.” In a recent conversation about the Biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus, we realized that every key player in the drama gave something. The whole history, stated in one short sentence, “God so loved…that He gave His only son…” (John 3:16), is surrounded by characters who had to make choices to give. It’s pretty amazing stuff and I can’t wait to begin unpacking it with you this weekend!