The Pastor’s Pen

”I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…”

Genesis 28:15 New International Version

Garrison Keillor once observed that the annual Florida gathering of pastors of large churches tended to be a time when ministers got together to let their hair down. “Of course”, he said, “they’re rather a short-haired lot.” All that is to say that we don’t get too raucous unless you call walking the beach in a t-shirt during the afternoon break from meetings a wild time.

For an icebreaker, we stood and introduced ourselves, the name of our church, and the temperature when we left home for the airport that morning. Though we were at twenty below in Maine earlier this week, my Minnesota and Wisconsin colleagues beat me by four degrees.

I’d forgotten how much my colleagues mean to me after three decades of shared ministry, the ways we’ve supported one another through various sufferings and surprising joys. What struck me most this year perhaps is that for all the hidden loneliness of ministry, we’re blessed with deep and abiding relationships that endure through time.

One of our gifted colleagues Sarah Butter preached this week on the power of the word “with” in scripture. I won’t steal her thunder or her sermon illustrations here, though I’m grateful to her for reminding us that the Christian life is a communal journey. We follow this Jesus who is God-with-us, and the Christ who said: “Lo I am with you always, even to the end of time.

Wherever you find yourself as you read these words, take a moment to speak the names aloud of those who walk with you in faith. These companions along the way are gifts from God. I am grateful for them, and I am grateful for you, those of you I know, and those of you I haven’t yet met. As we enter this New Year in weekly reflection on matters of faith, will you walk with me?

Prayer: Beloved God, our daily walk with you may take us along icy shores or sunlit paths. Wherever our journey, thank you for your abiding presence with us, and for giving us companions to walk with us along the way.

God’s grace, mercy, and peace,

Pastor Anna V. Copeland