Yesterday, a longtime member of the parish came by the church to pick up their tax statement. As we talked they said they weren’t sure if they were coming back. It seems that when Michael left, they felt let down and frustrated that once again someone we had hoped to lead us for a long time had left. This was not the first person that had let me know the same thing, so I pulled up a sermon I gave shortly after Michael left and would like to share it with you again.
I want to talk about All Saint’s because once again it seems we are without a Rector, Pastor, Priest in Charge or whatever you want to call the person who occupies the big office. It seems we have the same problem with rectors that Spinal Tap has with drummers, except ours don’t die. For those unfamiliar with Spinal Tap, it was a documentary about a band whose drummers always died before they could have a show. At any rate over the past 20-25 years we have had a steady stream of priests through the office. Some were intentionally short termed as interims while with others we held out hope would stay with us beyond five years.
The church, though, isn’t the hired clergy, whatever title we give them. The church is the people. The church is a family. The church is people doing God’s work in the world. All Saints is both of these.
All Saints is a welcoming, loving family and for the most part has been for at least the almost thirty years my family has been attending. It was what led us to join. It’s why the Peace takes so long. It’s why it’s noisy in the back before services. We are a family and enjoy being with each other.
All Saints has always and continues to do God’s work in the world. When presented with an opportunity for ministry, the parish always steps up. Nevadans for the Common Good, our continued support of Street Teens and our ongoing support of Gibson Middle School are just some of the ways we are active in the community. We’ve also had a clinic and testing on our campus and provided toys and food to many needy families this Christmas. We are now partnering to distribute food from our campus to the needy in our area. We have also maintained a food bank for the needy in our own church family. These are just a few ways we continue to do God’s work the world.
So, where are we? What are we going to do now that we are once again without a Pastor in the main office? We will do what we’ve always done. Stewart Zabriskie called it Total Ministry, Katherine called it the Ministry of All the Baptized. We will continue to gather and support one another. We will continue to do God’s work in the world. We have learned and grown through our experience with each pastoral leader we’ve had and we will continue to grow as we move forward. The church isn’t the pastor or rector. The church is us.