Category Archives: Ministry

Starlight, Starbright

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Forest Wander/Wikimedia Commons

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4)

One of my favorite activities during the summer is to leisurely walk my little buddy, Boomer, as the sun sets and the summer heat subsides. More often than not, we become witnesses to a wondrous spectacle of birds settling in for the night, rabbits and deer foraging, and a magnificent burst of colors as the sun recedes and the moon and stars appear. What a special time of year!

I hope as you travel or recreate closer to home, you take an opportunity to pause in your own wonder and worship. Consider the same loving God who created the world and stars created you. Like all of nature, you have a purpose and place in God’s loving, creative plan. In the hush of the evening, I suspect you might better hear and understand your call to reflect God’s beautiful light.

Yet like the stars above, we remain called to be in communion with one another – reflecting and sharing Christ’s love. We are asked to plant seeds of faith, justice and peace – as when volunteering at vacation bible school, local humane societies, food pantries, or serving in many other ways. At all times, we are invited to raise our voices in worship and praise of God with the mountains, seas, and firmament.

No matter where you go or what you do this summer, please contemplate our shared call to be church. We remain Christ’s, and it is Christ’s light and beauty which we are called to reflect and share. It is you, me and others that were created, called and baptized to be Christ’s church together.

 

Originally published in Messiah Lutheran’s newsletter, The Messenger (July 2017). Revised version, 26 June 2017. 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.

© 2017 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.

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Kayla Mueller: child of God, child of Love

kayla

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Kayla Mueller, an American hostage of ISIS, has been in the news a lot since her death was announced. Her Christian faith and love, inspirational to her friends and family over the years, is now being recognized by the wider world. In confirming her death Tuesday, the Mueller family quoted an earlier letter the young woman penned to her father on his birthday in 2011.

“I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine. If this is how you are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek you,” Kayla reflected. “I will always seek God. Some people find God in church. Some people find God in nature. Some people find God in love; I find God in suffering. I’ve known for some time what my life’s work is, using my hands as tools to relieve suffering.”

In her final letter, she wrote “If you could say I have ‘suffered’ at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through; I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness. I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c literally there was no else…. + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall. I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it. I pray each each day that if nothing else, you have felt a certain closeness + surrender to God as well + have formed a bond of love + support amongst one another…”

A friend, the Rev. Kathleen Day, recently commented, “They tried to silence her. They locked her up. They kept us silent out of fear. But now she is free. She said she found freedom even in captivity. Her light shines. And we thank you for shining your light, not on Kayla, but shine your light on the suffering that Kayla saw.”

As humans, our political solutions to the world’s problems may differ. People may disagree over faith issues. Yet, I think we all could learn something important from Kayla.

Our lives need to be shaped by the love of Christ, who humbled himself to serve us and set us free to love.

Certainly, God will present us with different calls and spiritual gifts. (Charisms some call this.) We will find Christ reaching out to each of us differently through ordinary people, places, situations, and for some perhaps a more direct, mystical call. It might prove hard to see the Christ in others, and at times, ourselves. Still, we are all created and called to share in the same purpose: making God’s love manifest in the world.

Most simply, we are asked to love God and one another.

Through our faith and baptism, Christ declares us the children of God; a God who is only love. Our acts of love – no mater how small – will never be wasted. We and the love we seek to share remain God’s own forever. It changes our world a relationship at a time. God intends to use us all – liberal, conservative or anywhere in between.

Listen for Christ’s call in your life at all times and in ever place. Seek him even in the utmost darkness when God seems most silent and far way. Don’t fear mistakes or rejection, but instead love with abandon. For, God’s kingdom will surely come. It is already at work through remarkable people like Kayla and like you, children of Love created and sent to this time and place.

Some might argue, “…but I’m no saint.” Yet before we ever recognized it, the Love which is God knew us. Jesus promises to be with us always. The Spirit is sent to sustain us. Wherever we find ourselves, it is the right time and place for us to make Christ’s love known throughout the world. For, deny it as we may, we who believe in Jesus are his saints in communion with the Heavenly Host and one another. We are never alone, and our lives prove part of a sacred plan bigger than ourselves. Miracles will happen (both large and small) when we only seek to love.

So, seek Jesus in your life as Kayla tried to do – in nature, love, suffering, whatever. Keep your heart and mind open, for God can meet you anywhere and at any time. Don’t be afraid. We won’t all be called to martyrdom. (Yet, if we ever are, Jesus will help us find freedom even then.) We only need start with our small piece of the world. Our context is our mission field. Our gifts are Christ’s own.

Just try to love those Christ has entrusted to your care or sends to intersect your life. Seek and serve Jesus in others. He is there. Don’t fear mistakes but please reflect upon your actions as honestly and gently as possible. Speak with trusted friends and spiritual advisers to help you discern your course. Listen to those who oppose you with patience and a desire to learn. Be open to repentance if you ever sense you are wrong.

As scripture attests, you were created to be a child of Love. Do your best to love. Then, trust Christ has done or will do the rest. He’ll lead all his children home.

Sources:
http://www.azcentral.com/…/kayla-mueller-portrait…/23218063/

http://www.nytimes.com/…/document-kayla-muellers-letter-fro…

http://www.azcentral.com/…/12news-parents-receive…/23165397/

Picture: A photo of Kayla Mueller previously volunteering as a relief worker in India found on AZCentral.com

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.

© 2015 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.

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Miracle on Atlee Road

8154 Atlee Rd

As Thanksgiving approaches, I find a favorite movie has begun playing on television over and over again, Miracle on 34th Street. This year, I have been reminded that miracles can happen over and over again in real life as well – whenever people choose to love one another as Jesus asked.

This past All Saints Sunday, I was given permission to share a sacred story. It was a tale of a suffering saint, not from long ago, but of one in our midst. Our sister in Christ, Rachel[i], a long-time member of our congregation, a baptized and believing child of God, was in desperate need. She was alone, fighting mental illness, and at risk of becoming homeless.

Rachel is well known to many if not all in our congregation. She has been a congregational member since the 1990s, although she has attended on and off since that time. Of late, she has especially stood out. Visibly, she has grown weaker and distant. Flowing conversations have become more and more difficult. Recently, one might only be answered with a short phrase or a single word. Due to medical issues, she is often seen getting up and down during our worship – going outside the sanctuary to the rest room or for water – and then returning. To be frank, her demeanor, appearance and behaviors could easily put one off or prove annoying.

This situation is sadly not unusual. She shares a story with many who are without family and suffering from mental illness. It is a story that began perhaps before birth, as her mother is said to have suffered from both mental illness and addiction. (Such issues are believed by some to often be partly genetic.) Yet, Rachel also reportedly suffered severe abuse in her original home from others who should have loved her. It is quite a testimony to her tenacity and gifts that she escaped that environment to become a valued employee where she worked and love a family of her own.

Still like many with similar histories, married life proved a challenge. When her husband allegedly became abusive, she decided to divorce him and start again. Unfortunately, he was able to use her mental condition and lack of financial means against her. She lost her children to his custody, and the now adult children – seemingly not understanding mental illness nor family systems – continue to blame her for the dissolution of their family. There is no meaningful contact or support.

Although she had tried hard to provide for herself and for her children, life seemed to work against her as new problems and challenges arouse time and time again. With this, her mental illness seemingly began to take control of her life. She had lost family, and she now lost friends. She eventually lost her job. Initially, a neighboring family tried to help her, but they, too, ran into problems of their own in the difficult economy. They couldn’t help her any longer.

All along, members of our congregation were walking beside Rachel. Certainly, I offered pastoral care and counseling. On top of that (if not more importantly), she received help with food, shelter, and rides. People tried to be patient with her and relate to her; always welcoming her into our assembly. Several sought to be like family to her inviting her to share in holidays and celebrations in their home. Despite our congregation’s current financial challenges[ii] and being a relatively small congregation[iii] for our area, our council managed to quietly pay for her room for several months while she was staying with her neighbors. We also provided assistance with necessities. Our president captured the council’s collective feeling when he said, “She’s been our sister in Christ when it was easy and times were good. We can’t pretend she isn’t our sister now when it is hard. We need to help her.”

Indeed, Rachel is not her mental illness. She is the person who always volunteers to help others, especially children. She heard of a need for children’s sandals and shoes overseas from a veteran she knew, so she initiated a collection through our church. Hundreds of youth in Afghanistan benefited. She is always ready to help us with property needs, vacation bible school, or mission work despite her current limitations. She is one who walks miles to join us for worship or events if she cannot get a ride. She insists on donating money for our shared ministry even when she has little and is told to use it for her own needs. As another person who knew her well said, “Some people love this church, but Rachel LOVES this church. It is her family.” Rachel is our sister, Christ’s sheep, and remains a beloved part of our family of faith.

As with family, Rachel had given the local social services permission to cooperate with me in meeting her needs, but we were confounded as to what could be done when Rachel finally became homeless. The local county only had funds for short-term housing (2 weeks), and our congregation struggled to find the money to pay the discounted rent with her neighbors never mind at a hotel or apartment. It appeared Rachel would be moved into the sometimes rough Richmond homeless shelter system. This put her at further risk of being far removed from her church family, being set back and delayed in her disability claim, and starting anew with a different social worker in an overtaxed, urban environment.

As I pondered this situation, I recognized the great challenge before us to get the money we would initially need to care for Rachel – $2500 for the first few months of housing using the county’s vendor. It was the safest place, easiest transition, and best rate we could hope for, and yet we don’t have that kind of money lying around. As I prayed about it, it struck me that perhaps I was looking at this problem the wrong way. Yes, it is an enormous problem in many respects, but what if we just tried to address the need bit by bit, step by step, and day by day? We could have a special appeal in our church and ask friends in the greater community to help Rachel. If we just looked for fifty people to offer fifty dollars (about the cost of a family eating out in many cases or to attend a family outing), that could cover the initial need. For those who couldn’t give, they would be asked to pray, help Rachel in concrete ways when possible, and welcome her in our assembly.

Symbolically, fifty is a number of freedom and new life, and that is what we want for Rachel. Leviticus 25 describes a Year of Jubilee when debts were to be forgiven, forced servitude was ended, and people began fresh. We now had a chance to help free one of our own sisters in faith – just 50 people and $50 at a time. We would call it our 50 X 50 Campaign, multiplying the love we ourselves had received as individuals from Christ and assuring Rachel that she is not alone.

Announcing this at worship on All Saints Sunday, I was nervous as to how the congregation would respond. I was heavy in my heart because I knew well what was at stake. In past police, hospice care, and mission work with at risk youth in South Dakota, I carried too many memories of those who didn’t make it through such times. Yet our hope is in a God of steadfast love. It is a love of miraculous, healing power that often works through the lives of ordinary people in unexpected ways.

So, I took the risk and made the appeal trusting that “all things work for the good of those that love God,” and God answered through his Holy People. Despite our attendance being lower than average that morning[iv], over $4000 was raised to help Rachel. We have never collected that much money in any appeal that fast before, and I dare say, never for anything as important. Since then, money is still coming in. In a world where too many people wonder if anyone could love them as they are, Jesus spoke love to Rachel that morning. Through us, he is still speaking.

Over the past few weeks in worship, we heard once again about the Beatitudes and how we should love one another. We were urged that we should be patient with and support the weak. We were reminded – both Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians alike – that saints are needed for earth and not just for heaven. I can’t say how this particular sacred story about Rachel will end in the immediate future, but I know Jesus and his people are in it for the duration. We have to be, because that’s exactly the way Jesus asks it to be.

As church, we should never focus on how weak we are or the size of any challenge ahead of us. We just need to seek to love, and Jesus will do the rest. Thus, we are told that we can rejoice and do all things through Christ who strengthens us – even miracles – one relationship at a time…even from a small, old building on Atlee Road.

——————————————————————————————————————-

As Rachel’s needs are long-term and many others’ suffer as she does, donations are still being accepted for our benevolence and charitable work. If you would like to help, please send your tax deductible donation (noting “50 X 50” on the memo line) to:

Messiah Lutheran Church and School
8154 Atlee Rd.
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

In hindsight, the above story is reminiscent of this song. Originally written at the time of the recent “Great Recession”, it reminds us all to love one another and boldly be ambassadors for Christ. We are never truly alone (Matt. 28:20)! Enjoy…


[i] For the sake of this public message, the woman’s name has been changed to provide for some privacy. It is a story shared with permission.

[ii] Although our financial situation has improved these past few years, it is still not unusual for us to struggle just to pay bills some months.

[iii] Messiah’s average attendance is about 95 with a bit over 200 members.

[iv] Attendance was in the mid-80s on November 3, 2013.

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Giving Thanks is Hard Work

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess. 5:16-18)

How can we properly give thanks to God? According to Paul’s letter to the community of faith in Thessalonica (Thessaloníki), it isn’t just by our words alone. As his letter comes to a close, Paul reminds the local congregation that Jesus is coming. We don’t know when, but we are asked to be prepared to welcome him. We are to remain sober, “putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet,” and all the while trusting that he will remain true to all his promises.

In other words, yes, wHard Work Aheade will share in Christ’s ultimate victory through faith, but we aren’t to be lazy while we wait for it. Our salvation isn’t just about our needs and our feelings. We are part of a much bigger, cosmic battle and purpose where we are to live – and yes, in some ways die – for one another: “encourage one another and build each other up”; “acknowledge those who work hard among you,” loving them and respecting their call to leadership; “warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” It might require putting our needs behind the needs of others. We might need to forgive someone who hurt us or be gentle in our reproach. Ultimately, we are to humbly love and serve one another and all those entrusted to our care. That can be hard!

Yet actively discerning our call from Christ, we are empowered to go forward in confidence. Victory is assured. We respond in thanksgiving by seeking to follow his Holy Spirit wherever it leads, no matter the risk or cost. Our Christian lives prove to be a great and noble effort based solely upon the love of our God and never our own legacy. We give thanks by being more than “country club” church members. We are to live actively as Christ’s disciples and saints, for by grace through faith that is exactly who we are.

So, yes I give thanks in prayer for all that we have shared and accomplished these past five years together at Messiah. I give thanks for our wonderful shared legacy of forty-five years serving Mechanicsville, Hanover County, and beyond. I remain thankful for all the saints in my own time and before who continue to inspire me. Yet most of all, I rejoice with you in our call to shared life and ministry; one that might prove hard at times but always consists of a future full of hope. It is together as church where we find the abundant life that Jesus promised us, and I am grateful for living as church with you.

This life of discipleship is Christ’s way, leading us and all the saints to the eternal feast of thanksgiving yet to come. To help celebrate, I invite all of us to reflect upon how we can live out Messiah’s mission more fully, “To share the good news of Jesus Christ and to invite all to join us in faith, worship, and service,” for there always remains room at Christ’s table.

Christ’s peace be with you always. I send you my prayers for a blessed Thanksgiving. Please pray for Kristine and me as well.

Your brother in Christ,
Pastor Lou

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.

© 2013 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.

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Needy? Our Cup Overflows

Messiah Lutheran.group shot

Messiah Lutheran Church Members & Friends,
8 September 2013

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. (2 Cor. 8:1-2)

Reading the above passage, I began to reflect upon our life together at Messiah Lutheran. Seeking assistance for a mission, Paul was encouraging the larger, more affluent congregation in Corinth to look toward the example of the struggling Christian community in Macedonia. I began to see a parallel. How has our little church faced with so many historic and current problems been used to encourage others?

Once a person mentioned to me in passing that it seemed our community is made of a “disproportionate number of people in need” and perhaps we would always remain small. This indeed might be true (only God knows the plans in store for us), yet I embrace that description. After all, Jesus came for the “least of these”: the hungry, the naked, the homeless and marginalized, even prisoners. Therefore at Messiah, we have intentionally forged strong relationships with those having intellectual, physical and mental disabilities. We have actively sought to support members of our community with food, clothing, and housing. Hospitality and authentic welcome are recognized marks of our ministry regardless of social, economic, political or other differences. Some of our members and neighbors have been helped to lift themselves out of domestic abuse, addiction, and even jail. We are truly trying to live as Christ’s disciples in mission, no longer Gentile or Jew, male or female, but all one in Christ. If two or three gather in his name, Christ is there, so our size doesn’t really matter either. Our congregation is exactly the kind of beloved community spoken about in scripture!

Despite our needs (or perhaps because of them), we have come together to rebuild and strengthen this congregation’s ministry, not perfectly but as best we can, and this has made a difference worth celebrating. Although we are still small and at times people might leave, worship attendance has increased over 35% since 2006. Giving has gone up about 10% per year no matter the ebb and flow of our national economy. We still struggle financially (sometimes wondering how we will pay our bills), but we have closed a $35,000 deficit while supporting others – fully funding our tithe to the greater church, ranking several years in the top 20 for donations to the Virginia Synod’s United Lutheran Appeal, starting new ministries in support of Lutheran Family Services, serving as a covenant congregation with Hanover Habitat, reinvigorating the shared, ecumenical food, clothing and benevolence ministry which is MCEF, and much, much more. Our outreach has dramatically increased and a number of long-time members have suggested our community is more spiritually oriented than ever before.

Thanks to the grace of God working through our lives together, we have all contributed to our “success.” A Thrivent loan officer remarked, “We have seen congregations ten times your size not do as much.” It is often why when I am at area events that people remark, “I hear things are going great at Messiah,” or “Your that church that is so active in the community.” In our welcoming of All Souls Episcopal to share our worship space, I have had three different Evangelical pastors comment at the great and unusual witness to Christian love being made manifest here. When we attended the Virginia Synod Assembly, other congregations have asked for appointments to discuss why and how things are “going so well” at Messiah for two years running. We are further affirmed as a community by the reality that 46% of our membership comes from outside of Mechanicsville. These people are willing to make drives of 30 minutes to an hour because they recognize that this community is indeed “different.”

Are we challenged as an institution in property and programs? Do we dine with people who are marginalized, hurting, sinful and alone? Do we struggle as individuals? You bet! We are real people with real problems, but we are a saved people all the more. Thanks be to Christ, we are the church! We seek to live as disciples more than as “members”; striving to concretely love God and neighbor. We are invited to walk on in a living hope of what is promised us in Christ’s victory, not based upon what we get or experience here and now.

In the end, we are ultimately a family of faith not defined by geography, finances, numbers or programs, and especially not our aging building. Instead, love, abundant joy and generosity – a response to what God has already offered us – describes us well. We are being recognized locally and beyond because as Jesus has promised, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As we continue to celebrate our 45 years in ministry, I want to say that I am always proud and grateful to serve you as well as alongside you in mission. If you are a visitor or have been away, I invite you to come join our celebration; not an event but our shared life in Christ Jesus.

Peace,
Pastor Lou

Everyone makes a difference at
Messiah Lutheran!

To see pictures from our God’s Work – Our Hands Day, click here.  

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.

© 2013 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.

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Be a clown!

Be a clownA cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

I have been called many things in my life, but this past month I was called a clown. To be more precise, I was called to be a clown as part of our Vacation Bible School. Through skit and song, crafts and games, I was blessed to share a journey with forty youth and almost as many adults into deeper friendship with God and one another.

I find that relationships are most easily formed through joyful encounters and positive attitudes, and it isn’t much different for our relationship with Christ and his church. Our happy fellowship, laughter, and even a caring smile can serve as a witness to our faith and help sustain others, but I believe it also serves to encourage us in our work and shape our own futures.

What kind of joy is this? I am talking about much more than a positive attitude (although that helps). In fact, it ultimately isn’t about us at all. Trusting that no matter what happens we will always be cared for by Christ frees us to smile, to laugh, to risk relationship and love no matter the cost. We can be rejected, and yet our healthy self-esteem can continue unharmed because we are loved by God. We can seem to fail in our efforts and yet not worry; we share in Christ’s victory. Even as we struggle with sin or illness or tears, or anything else one can think of, we can trust with Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” God will use whatever happens for our good.

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times,” declared Martin Luther. Yes, faith is God’s punch line to our world’s fallen reality. Faith surprises and empowers us. Even amidst difficulties or tears, it manifests itself through the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It keeps us going in the face of great obstacles, and in answer to death, it births an abundant life.

Long ago, Francis of Assisi and his followers encountered Christ’s love in their midst through active fellowship, service and worship together. This radical communal lifestyle raised the eyebrows of many who called them “Fools for Christ,” yet that way of life brought Francis, his friends and those they served an abundance of joy – not sour, pious faces, rigorous religiosity, or burdensome obligations. Perhaps, they had the last laugh by adopting the name meant to deride them.

That is the kind of clown I hope I can be…that I believe Christ intends us to be together as church. Please help us together discover the gift of such joy this fall as we celebrate 45 years of ministry at Messiah. No kidding, it might just change the world.

May Christ’s peace and joy always reign in your life,

Pastor Lou

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.

© 2013 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.

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Godspeed to our Vicar

US_Navy_Chaplain_Corps_Seal_2001
Dear Messiah members and friends,

Effective June 2nd following our unified worship and picnic, Vicar Nathan Huffman[i] will have completed his first year seminary field work at Messiah. During his year, he spent 7-10 hours per week assisting at worship, visiting members, and receiving required vocational counseling. He also preached three Sundays and completed requirements to be accepted into the Navy’s chaplaincy program. (He was sworn into the Navy Individual Ready Reserves in May as an Ensign, and he will begin his military training this summer.) This is only the beginning of his journey toward ordained ministry. He has three more years of seminary training which will include a year assignment as a full-time intern, along with military chaplaincy training throughout.

It will be sad to say goodbye to Vicar Nate, but it is also a joy to know we have helped him on his way. He has learned more about himself, his call, and Christ’s church by sharing in our ministry and our lives, and we, too, have been blessed. Wherever he goes, we will be part of the blessing he brings, and he will remain part of the love our community shares. He’ll travel the world, but we will remain in communion through the love of Jesus Christ and our on-going shared mission.

As we move forward, council, the mutual ministry team and I intend to explore options for another field education or full-time intern placement. It has been a great experience for us, for Nate and the church. Why not let the good times roll?

Bon voyage, Nate. We hope our paths will cross again many times in the future. Until then, “We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul”  (Hebrews 6:19), Christ is with us always and loves us. Our journey together will never end.

Peace,
Pastor Lou

 


[i] In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the title “vicar” indicates a pastoral intern. Vicar Huffman is a first year student at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA.

The above pastoral letter was originally published in Messiah Lutheran Church and School’s newsletter, The Messenger (June 2013 edition). To view the entire issue of The Messenger or to see the full calendar of events, visit: http://www.mlcas.org

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.

© 2013 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.

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