It was a good reminder for us at St. Timothy’s that our journey from the 22 years of ‘ordinary times’ in the ministry of Steven Strane as our Rector were anything but ordinary.
Yet we are passing through the seasons since his retirement three months ago with both ease and anticipation.
We know we have much work yet to do, but we are eager to get to it.
Lessons from Stage One: The Departure
Steven’s gift to us was the patient nurturing of a strong faith community over his tenure into a place for every person who loves God and seeks Christ—and where there is never a shortage of ways to love and serve Him in the midst of our congregation, in our community and the wider church. As we embark on the transition stage of our journey toward finding a new rector we are impatient to get there but confident that God will show us whom He has called to be our next shepherd if we pray, and talk to each other and keep on doing His work in the vineyard.
Steven’s collegial style faithfully lived all those years made St. Timothy’s a cradle for those called to the priesthood. Out of our pews have come a dozen faithful who have taken Holy Orders and serve God in ways large and larger in the lives of those they touch.
One of those seedlings has turned into a mighty oak tree for us on this journey of transition. We have learned in transition how fortunate we are to have Kathy Trapani as our Interim Rector. In the months since Steven retired Kathy has been our shepherd and keeper of our hopes, dreams, prayers and aspirations. That the time has passed so smoothly gliding seamlessly forward is testimony to her skill and experience. For all the reasons we have loved her as our Associate we now love her even more for holding our hand and guiding our way through transition to Epiphany.
Our Transition Still has Training Wheels
In her sermon today, Kathy Trapani, reminded us that our relative comfort in our parish community should not be taken for granted. She told us that from the Bishop’s call to the Rector of St. Paul’s Walnut Creek to ‘plant a mission congregation down the road in the San Ramon Valley’ back in 1953 our parish has grown strong. But she said more than 85% of the people who live in our parish service area do not have a church they call home. They are seekers but they have not yet found a faith community. It reminded us that while we committed ourselves during our 50th anniversary to keep our unbroken chain of faith going by planting a mission congregation of our own that maybe that work begins by inviting one new person each week to ‘try us out’.
And to remind us that we can do it, just as she has! Her own journey from the pews to seminary and back again to be our Associate and now Interim Rector is a pure and perfect gift from God—and a lesson that we too can get up out of those same pews and get involved. We don’t need sacred orders to roll up our sleeves and do God’s work. Just do it.
Like Andrew and Simon Peter in the lessons today asking where they could find Jesus in their desire to follow Him, Kathy is telling us we can follow Jesus by doing the work of this transition to get involved, to serve God and those seekers in our midst, and in so doing learn more about ourselves and what God is calling our faith community to be for the future. It is a journey of anticipation, of prayer and some risk—the risk of new ideas, change, new people. She challenges us not to be complacent. Not to coast but to share the Good News from our own experience.
Our journey of transition is mostly still ahead of us and there are plenty of opportunities to serve. No job is too small and every gift of time and talent brings us together as a community of faith more confident that we can do it with God’s help.
By the end of our transition stage we must prepare a parish profile that describes who we are as a faith community and what we seek in calling a new rector. Getting to that Epiphany is going to be hard work. But somehow, some way we must capture the essence of this parish—but first we must discover it anew and put into words what is in our hearts. We must show the manifestation of Christ is the work of our hands and in the faces of those we serve. And we must KNOW in our hearts that we are ready to put out a call, receive candidates and listen to whom God is calling to be our new rector.
When God tells us whom he has chosen we will not need to look at their resume—just ask them why they feel called to this place—if their answer shines brightly in your heart and fills your spirit with hope, joy and peace.
That will be our Epiphany.