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“Will you miss us, Pastor?”

posted 15.03.2015

Vicar writes – 14/15 March 2015

We had a refreshing Clergy Retreat this week, with the theme "A Pastor and his personal holiness." Bishop encouraged us to have in our heart a sanctuary of God's presence. From there, it will flow into our families, churches, society and nation. We also heard testimonies from various clergy. One is celebrating his 50th year of serving as a clergy and talked about some moments of intense suffering. Indeed, it is encouraging to be in the midst of clergy servants of all ages, young and old.

I am still in a season of "leaving"; if I may borrow the marriage metaphor of "leaving and cleaving." It is of course not easy to say goodbye. One of the best question posed to me during this season is not "How do you feel about leaving after only recently seeing the new building project completed?" Or "This is such a good church.  Do you feel sad about leaving her?" The fact is,  wonderful as our new building is, and great, talented and resource-filled as SJC indeed is, these are not factors that will have the most impact on me during this season of leaving.

One question was spot on and made me reflect deeply, "Pastor, will you miss us?"

This question hit home. This is why we are struggling. I will miss the wonderful friends whom Jennifer and I have been privileged to journey with these past 14 years, the shared ministry, the shared lives (koinonia), the pain we have felt together (especially sickness and bereavement) and so on. I will still have in me memories of the earlier years in the former building, the conversations, prayer together etc. And most definitely, those who have gone ahead of us to be with the Lord, who are very much a part of the "communion of SJC saints."

There is a union in Christ which is only experienced when church is more than just a service you attend on weekends. It is family and it is home. We eat, laugh, give, work, play, pray and weep together. We don't see each other as objects to be used for a purpose, but as dear brothers and sisters in Christ, to whom we are bound to and share with.

I think this makes a local church strong and special. Great sermons we can easily forget. Great buildings and facilities, we can quickly get use to. Big impressive projects, with time, become insignificant. But people, love and bonds in Christ - these we take with us well into eternity. This is the true treasure of any local church. Stay on the fringe and you are merely eating crumbs that fall off the table. Get into the family, and you will be enriched and when for whatever reason, like me, you have to leave, you will look back with deep fond memories of years well spent.