Disclaimer: Words cannot express the amount of grief and turmoil that have finally resulted in this post. I would have given anything to have anyone tell me what to do when Lynn died, how to transition out of a loving body of believers when the pastor has shockingly dropped dead... How to cope with everyone's grief on top of my own, how to change my heart from being their pastors wife...
I remember so clearly when Pastor Cory and Sandra came to our church in Truro. I remember him standing up and speaking about John 12:24, Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Then in 1 Corinthians 15:36, it says, That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies. Pastor Cory and Sandra profoundly demonstrated this principle to me in their ministry. They believed in letting their previous ministry go, letting it die, so to speak, and embracing the new season God had in store for them. If they had not done this, I wonder whether or not they would have packed their bags and headed back home to Summerside :) But, no. They had beautifully transitioned into our community by faith, letting go of their old life, ministry, and relationships, and by faith, fully embracing the present season, the new community, the new relationships God had in store for them.
When a pastor leaves one congregation, there is a death, an end to something, and the start of something new. But the church grieves. This isn't always acknowledged maybe as it should be. This transition can be hard. I know it was for IBC when Peter left. All Cory heard for ages was what Peter would have done or how Peter did things... :) When God asks a pastor to move on, he must put his old ministry to death in order to embrace something new. But the congregation is not always equipped in knowing how to make this transition.
To Immanuel Baptist Church... there has been a death. The end to mine and Lynn's ministry at your church came not with a letter of resignation, a formal ceremony of blessing and releasing, both happy and sad sentiments, a reception full of goodies... It came with a real death, a sudden and shocking death that left everyone grieving, in a tailspin, and not knowing what to do. You cared for me, provided for me, supported me and the girls. You wrote letters upon letters and cards upon cards, so many notes of remembrance, remembering Lynn, who he was and all he did...
My church, I am in a new place. I have joined a new church family who want to love me and support me. I find I am holding back. And I hear those words echoing... Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies... Is it just me? I need to let the old ministry die, just like Cory and Sandra had done when they started at IBC. I need to entrust you to the Father, bless you in Jesus' name, but separate myself in a healthy way. So that I can embrace this new season of blessing and healing, a new family of believers with love and support. And you may feel, Why? Aren't we friends? The answer is both yes and no. We are more than friends, we are family. We are family in Christ, brothers and sisters, united as many members of one body. There is no death in this regard. No end. The bond of union will remain, throughout the ages, throughout the seasons, through whatever is to come.
IBC, yesterday, I deposited the last check I will have received from you. What you have done for me, how you have loved and cared and provided, leaves me speechless. I have tried to write about it many times and have been simply unable. But this I can write, You are anointed, Immanuel Baptist Church, with the gift of generosity. You give and give and give. You are blessed, and blessed to be a blessing. I have been the recipient of these blessings for a long time now. Do you, too, need to let me go? Are you grieving? Are you letting the grain of wheat fall to the earth and die so that a new season will spring up for you? Where is God leading you to give? Is it the project in Rwanda? In India? Truro?
My dear church family, it has taken me almost a year to only somewhat understand what to do. Can you see Lynn's death as a divinely orchestrated resignation? Can you let the past go? Can you entrust us to the Father? And can you seek and pursue his plan, by faith, fully embracing the new season he has called you to???
Is it just me? More than likely :) But if not, this is my word for you. Let me go. We will always be joined in the bond of Christ. But it is time. It is time to embrace a new thing (Is 43).