Today was a unique day in my United Church of Christ tradition…any tradition I suppose. It was a ‘transition Sunday.’ Not transition from one church season to another church season, but from one pastor to another.

Most of the time this is done with interims, stay away mandates, etc. In my case, the congregation I am now serving had the nerve to try something different. The retiring pastor has been nurturing an active ministry for over 27 years. Together they decided to try and keep the momentum going, the continuity going, and keep him in place until I (the new pastor) was called.

Admittedly, this scared away some candidates. (someone said I was the only one who wasn’t scared by this situation…hope that’s not why they called me…was I the last candidate standing?) But today was testimony that this fear was largely unfounded.

The retiring pastor developed a beautiful service that incorporated various symbolic references to ministry which are, lets face it, property of the church and not the pastor. We are, at our best, custodians of the rites and sacraments of the church.

This lead he and I to ‘split’ the sermon, and to preach on 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul is trying to impress upon the Corinthians that they need not engage in partisan politics. There is but one party in a real church, because we pastors belong to the congregation, the congregation belongs to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. The way others have said the same thing is that ‘if the church was ever a real church it wasn’t Paul’s church, or Apollos’ church, or Peter’s church. It was and is Christ’s church.

Sure things change. They always do. A planted seed changes when it grows. A building changes as it is constructed. Change occurs in every case so that what is unchangeable may remain. For us in the church it is this ministry of reconciliation, the mysteries of God, the unsearchable riches of Christ. On that we lean. It is our source of stability in the uncertain days in our struggle to be faithful.

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