When I first came to Prince of Peace 14 years ago, I was so thankful to find an ELCA congregation close to our new home. Even more so, I was impressed by how warmly we were welcomed and by the strong sense of servant-hood and community outreach. How thrilling it is to know that those same qualities of hospitality and neighbor-love continue to be central to our community identity.
In our Gospel this coming Sunday, we witness a very intimate conversation between the Risen Jesus and Simon Peter. Three times Jesus asks Simon Peter, “Do you love me?” Following each affirmation of his love for Jesus, he is told to do something; “Feed my lambs” – “Tend my sheep” – and “Feed my sheep.” As I have reflected on this exchange, I’ve thought about what this message means for us today, right here where we are.
Each time you participate in a Hunger Walk, NFCC Food Pantry, Bread Run, and Soup Kitchen activity or provide a meal for someone in our midst, you are saying, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. Each time you participate in a Habitat Build, serve at Family Promise, make a quilt or prayer shawl, teach an ESL Class or provide an Angel Tree gift, you are saying, Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. There are so many within our midst that show their love by singing in the choir, being a part of the Praise Band, serving in the Altar Guild, Youth Ministries, Fellowship, or giving of your time and talents maintaining our buildings and grounds, or by volunteering in the office. Through your service you are saying, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
These are just a few of the many ways in which this wonderful community of faith is dedicated to feeding, tending and sharing the love of Christ in the wider community and with one another. During this time of waiting and preparing to call a new pastor, we can be tempted to become anxious and feel as if we are drifting without direction. As I look around at the wonderful work God continues to accomplish in and through you, I am reassured.
As some of you have heard me say, our CEO has not changed. Ourmission has not changed. Be encouraged and do not fear; God is right here in our midst. What you do here is meaningful and pleasing to God. I encourage you to be patient with the call process and to have faith in your Synod staff and elected leadership here at Prince of Peace. While we wait, we have an important role to carry out.
First and foremost, we lift our prayers to God and ask the Holy Spirit to be present and guide our discernment. We can commit to full participation in the upcoming group meetings where we will have the opportunity to share in envisioning an exciting future. Finally, we can be assured that even now God is working to prepare and bring you a new shepherd that will love, care for and lead you!
I look forward to seeing each of you in worship this Sunday. To those still away enjoying Spring Break, I pray your time will be joyful and that you are blessed with safe travels.