Farewell and Devotional
posted on June 22
To the Catawba Valley District:
Below is my last devotion to the district. As I sit in my prayer room, looking out the window at the small lake and water sprouting from the center, I am thinking about the Living Water, Jesus Christ. I give thanks to the Living Water that flows through the Catawba Valley District.
Thank you to all the clergy. You have made me a better person, pastor, friend, and colleague. To the laity, I will genuinely miss working with each of you and encourage you to continue the Kingdom ministry.
I was able to visit the majority of the churches. I still had about twenty on my list I was not able to complete. It does not mean you were not a priority in my heart. My prayers will continue for you.
Thank you to those who have sent emails and called. Your words of encouragement and support mean a great deal.
I feel like a parent who wants the best for her child. Therefore, I look forward to hearing the fantastic news of how you continue your ministry through the leadership of Reverend David Christy. You will be blessed under his leadership and guidance.
I also welcome our new district lay leader, Mr. George Eubanks, who will lead our district board of laity as well as our Lay Servant training.
And, of course, Mrs. Jana Alexander, words fail me to express my gratitude for all she is and does for our district. She is invaluable, and I will greatly miss working with her.
My joy is I will not be pastoring a church, but I will pastor a community that happens to have a church. As pastor of the South Tryon Community Church, my work will involve community engagement and ministry of reconciliation. I am also assigned to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Eastway Division, where I will continue my ministry with Law Enforcement. I am working on a document entitled "Borderland Community." And I am in the final stages of completing my certification as a Spiritual Director.
Beginning June 14-June 30, I will be on vacation to rest, restore, and renew my spirit before my new appointment. So, grace and peace to each of you. And we will see each other around the clergy gatherings.
Once I had several cans of caffeine-free diet coke. I dropped one of the cans and put it back in the pack. As you know, when a can of soda falls, the contents on the inside are shaken, and it is wise to wait before opening. The trouble came when I did not know which drink I dropped. And, yes, wouldn't you know it. I opened the one I dropped and ended up wearing more of the diet coke than I was able to drink.
Last week I asked, "What are we doing, and what are you putting into place as the body of Christ, to help people reach into that place of their deepest hurt and pain, to begin the process of healing?" – Silence. No one could respond, maybe because we don't know how to deal with our pain and healing.
I reflect on September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked our country. The churches were filled for weeks. Several months later, many of the congregations were no longer over-flowing. People asked, "What happened to the people?"
People came searching for answers and searching for relief from their pain. When people are in pain, we cannot program people back to health; it's about relationships. And, most relationships have ups and downs. It can be messy and fulfilling. But when it is on the downward spiral and messy, the answer is not to deny it or run from it. In marriage vows, we say, "for better or worse, for richer or poorer," yet when the worse or poorer comes, we fight or flight.
How do we help people go into that very place of hurt and pain that they have neglected for so long and have suppressed it with work, play, life? So, day after day, month after month, year after year, it is buried deeper and deeper. It does not go away, but like the contents of the soda can it is festering. It is bubbling until one day something happens, we explode. So, how do we begin the process of healing?
As we walk the journey of healing, there is the encounter. Jesus was hanging out around a well after a long journey. Little did a woman of Samaria know that day would be her divine encounter. The Samaritan woman had deep pain, unrest, and loneliness in her heart. She did not confront this pain but practiced avoidance. She would visit the well at a time of day to avoid the other women, the stares, the gossip.
We cannot transform our own hearts. Only in an encounter with Jesus can our hearts be transformed.
On the path to healing, we experience an encounter, and then we acknowledge our pain and hurt. Jesus asked the woman to go to her husband. She replied, "I have no husband." Jesus said, "You have correctly said I have no husband; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly." John 4:17-18 NASB.
We must acknowledge and confess the unhealed places in our life that healing and transformation can begin. It is not an easy path; it will hurt deeply. But if you have suffered an injury or had surgery, you know the pain before and during the operation. But you also see the joy and peace once the healing and recovery are complete.
Once the healing begins, we become the wounded healers. We are sent into the world to help others along their journey of healing and wholeness. "So the woman left her waterpot and went into the city and said to the men, 'Come, and see a man who told me all the things that I have done.'" John 4:28-29 NASB.
Jesus gave this Samaritan Living water, a life nourished by God. It is a new life available through the Spirit of God. It is available to all who are willing to receive it. The most powerful part of the woman's testimony and the people's experience is the confession, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world." John 4:42 NASB.
"When our will, our whole heart, enters into the prayer of Christ, then we are truly praying." ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer~
Reverend Angela A. Pleasants
Catawba Valley District Superintendent and Chief Missional Strategist