June 28, 2020
Photo mosaic by: holyspirit @ Mosaically
As many of you already know I love a glass of nice wine. Additionally, when I have time, I also love to visit the vineyards in Napa and Sonoma and experience the whole wine making process and understand what goes into the making of a good wine. You have heard me preach a few times about it over the years.
A great wine does not happen overnight. It takes not only good grapes from great soil but it also takes time in a good oak barrel to mature the wine. The secret of great wine making involves a lot of different elements. You can have great grapes from wonderfully rich soil with awesome potential but if put into an ordinary barrel, it never reaches its true potential. Yes in all of this process is the necessary time to age the wine and let it mellow and mature.
I think that process is a great metaphor for a pastor and his community. A pastor, like any potentially good wine starts out as good grapes from a great soil of education and experience. But that wine still needs a great barrel of community to hold and contain it allowing him to mellow and mature.
I think this community has been a wonderful oak barrel to contain me and allow me to mellow and mature. When I first came here, I was a young wine with lots of ideas, energy and zest; very fruity so speak! In many ways, my wine was undrinkable. I had too many ideas, too much energy and all sorts of directions. I needed to mature and mellow. This community held me and contained me calling me to maturity. You allowed me to become who I am who I am today. You are an awesome community who is gentle, loving, and caring. If I am a great pastor (and not all will agree!) it is only because it is this community who made me who I am.
In the most special way, all the ministers and volunteers who gave of their time and energy working to become a barrel to contain not just the wine of my life but to contain and mature the wines of all our lives. I want to say from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU for your endless hours of love, service and worship together. I especially thank the many members of the pastoral councils, finance councils, school advisory boards, school finance committees, liturgy committees, social ministries committees and other committees that made this parish what it is today. You are the oak that make up the barrel. Without you there is no wine from any of our lives.
Also, I say a huge thank you to all the staff members over the years. Every one of them have contributed to making our community be what it is today. They have made me look good when all along they are the ones who do the bulk of the work in the background. They are the great wine makers and allow all of us to be the wine of great potential. It is hard to mention people by name because all the staff without exception have been amazing to work alongside. But I want to give a special shout-out to Renee Sneed who has been my assistant (among many other hats) for over 15 years. She has kept me on track when I needed it and always there to support me personally and professionally. Renee, thank you for your tireless service to me and the parish. Additionally, I want to acknowledge Penny Warne who has served as Pastoral Associate helping me lead this parish. She has been there for the best and the worst of times and was never afraid to say the most difficult thing to keep our wine flowing and tasting good. I thank you, Penny, for your incredible dedication and hard work. If I am decent wine at all it is because of her tenacity for the powerful nuances that make a great wine of a leader, she added the necessary collaboration and mutual accountability that calls us to greatness.
In the end, I save the greatest THANKS to God for his trust in all of us to be the best wine we can be for each other. I thank God for allowing me to serve here for 16+ years and to grow and mature into the wine that I have become. I am so much better for have been here and serving here. God has abundantly blessed me, and I will take that blessing and share it with others. Thank you, God from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for me, are doing with me and will do through me in the future.
Please pray for me and I will pray for you and until we meet again, I close my final bulletin article as your pastor with a blessing from John O’Donohue, one of my favorite poets:
We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the Eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.
Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.
So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.
May God bless you all now and forever. Amen