Were, I corrected myself. It’s past tense. I was introducing myself to the new pastor at the Methodist church as I dropped Q off for the start of a new year at Parents’ Day Out. “I’m so glad to meet you. My husband, Jaron and I are pastors at the Nazarene church,” I started. Wrong. We were pastors at the Nazarene church. As of Sunday it became past tense. Seven years and some change and that’s a wrap. I felt like a piece of my heart was being yanked out.
There are very few things that compare to being a pastor. Perhaps it could be likened to being a parent. It’s a role that bears the greatest privilege and the greatest burden. It’s a love for a people that is deeper than those people could ever imagine. It’s wanting even more for them than they could want for themselves… longing to see the God’s very best in their lives. It’s the weight of carrying their burdens and taking them to Jesus…over and over and over again. It’s the immense joy of celebrating their victories. It’s life together in covenant relationship as one body.
This past Sunday, as we stepped down from our roles as pastors at LovingtonNaz, it literally felt like we were giving up our baby. We are entrusting a people that we love dearly to another pastor who will shoulder their burdens and celebrate their joys, who will walk with them through the peaks and valleys of the days and years ahead. We couldn’t be more grateful that these people are our friends and partners in ministry. We trust them explicitly to lead our people into the future God has for them. You can hear the three-part sermon from one pastoral office here or get a glimpse of Pastor Aaron’s take on things in this blog post from Tuesday. It is all so right.
And letting go is still hard.
We celebrated with an awesome worship service and delicious burgers and homemade ice cream. The kids played with reckless abandon and adults laughed heartily. We anticipate great things for these people whom we love so much. With full tummies and genuine smiles, we meant every minute of it.
And there’s still a sense of loss.
Then, we spent a couple of hours on Facetime with the interim pastors at our church in New Zealand. There’s a people there who will be ours. They’re not quite yet, but they will be. We’ll learn to love them deeply, shoulder their burdens, share in their joys and long for God’s very best in their lives. They will become friends and our church family.
And all the while, we will be grateful for a community of faith in Lovington, NM who has loved us and shaped us, journeyed with us and given us the great privilege of being their pastors for seven fruitful years. Down the road, they’ll share their stories with us. We will cheer them on as they carry on the legacy. Together, we’ll rejoice over Kingdom victories that happen on opposite hemispheres. And we’ll celebrate the fact that in a way, they will always be ours.