Texts: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, Romans 5:1-5
Our church community received surprising and sad news this past week—the resignation of our pastor, Jack McKinney. For nearly ten years Jack has ministered with and among this congregation offering wise leadership, prophetic preaching, and compassionate care to all who walked through our doors. Because of him, we know a bit more about Texas living (okay a lot more), about the crazy things young boys do with their childhood friends, and the value of laughter when talking about serious matters of faith. But above all, throughout these almost ten years, he has in the strongest of Pullen tradition, challenged us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. And he has done so first by example and second by being a prophetic voice in our community. Now, with the same authenticity and honesty with which he has pastored us, he shares that it is time for him to leave this work for new adventures and new challenges. For our loss, we are deeply saddened. And for the time that Jack has shared his life and his gifts with us, we are deeply grateful.
When a pastor leaves, it is natural for the church to feel anxiety and loss. As individuals, we grieve the loss of the pastor-parishioner relationship. Pastors stand and sit with us through the most profound times of our lives—in life and death, through covenants made and covenants broken, through all kinds of life questions and transitions. As a church family, we come to depend on the wisdom and vision of a pastor. We count on them to lead us throughout difficult times—whether those are world crises or crises contained within our church family. We trust our pastors with our hopes and dreams, with our disappointments and failures, with our seeking and our knowing. The loss of such a relationship can naturally create feelings of loss and sadness and anxiety. It doesn’t help to ignore such feelings, and we won’t.