The Vanguard of the Empowered Faithful

It seems like yesterday.  The reality is that it soon will be one year since we said goodbye to Steve Strane as he retired as Rector at St. Timothy’s after 22 years.

This time has passed quickly.  In part because Kathy Trapani stepped into the role of Interim Rector so seamlessly that the parish did not skip a beat and time marched on as it always does around here in hectic joy.

Our life as a faith community over this past year has been full of all the things we take for granted.  Our corporate worship experience remains solid.  Our shared goals and values are still being lived out daily for a thousand people of faith by a hundred hands working scores of ministries across our unbroken chain of faith.  Through the work of the Search committee we are reminded of our work ahead as the Body of Christ.

The ‘news from back home’ that reaches Steven these days through the grapevine of friends must be pleasing but not surprising.  He would rejoice at our progress and sense of purpose in keeping on with our mission and ministry work.  After all, we are doing this for God not because Steven or Kathy asked us to do it, I can hear him say.  He would celebrate our intentional interactions with the Diocese as living into our values.

He would be beaming with praise for Kathy’s work in this interim period.  She has made the heavy lifting of this uncertain interim period look easy when it is not.  She has kept the trains running on time when we might have coasted waiting for the ‘new rector’ rather than rolling up our sleeves and doing the work that needs to be done.

Steve always knew what we are realizing once again—Kathy is an “All-Star” to use a sport metaphor like those she slips into her sermons.  Let’s face it, it’s tough duty following the ‘old guy’ everyone loves after 22 year.  But the greatest tribute to both Steven and Kathy is that in Steven’s departure we got to know Kathy afresh.  And for all the reasons we loved her then, we love her even more now as our Interim Rector.

We still love the ‘old guy’ we do not miss him because Kathy is with us, holding our hand on this uncertain path and we trust her to take us where God is calling us to go. Steven would take no offense at these words.  He would say, “Amen!” The difference for us is with Steven when did not know when we would have to say goodbye, and with Kathy we do.  So it makes our time together all the more important, all the more intentional, all the more endearing.

I do not mean this post to be melancholy. I mean for it to be joyful.

God must really love us because He has given us two gifts of immense value in Steven and Kathy. 

We rejoice in their time with us.  And from them and through them we have learned to be intentional, to listen to God’s call along our unbroken chain of faith, to act when action is required.  Their greatest gift to us have been their collegiality and the raising up of lay leaders to do the mission and ministry work of the church and in their unconditional faith in us, love for us, and prayers for us we have grown in faith in ourselves and in anticipation for God’s plan ahead for us.

Thank you seems so inadequate for such gifts.  Their work in our midst is the surest evidence of God’s unconditional love for us.

The lessons Steven then and Kathy now have taught us are the future of the church and we are the vanguard of the empowered faithful. We are in training for what God has planned for us next.  Our job is to get ready and stay ready and so we must exercise our minds and hearts by doing God’s prep work in the vineyards.

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