Answering a New Call

Sarah

A Letter To My Lindenwood Family:

Over the past 3+ years, you taught me how to be a minister. You allowed me to lead you in worship, prayer, and small groups. You ordained me in your sanctuary. You offered me the privilege of blessing new babies and marrying committed partners here. You invited me to your bedside for pastoral care. You included me in the intimate moments of grief and loss that you endured.

You gave me space to try, to fail, and to achieve. Thank you.

Every minute of my ministry at Lindenwood Christian Church felt like a gift, a privilege and a true call from the Holy Spirit.

Today, I write to tell you some exciting yet bittersweet news. In prayer and partnership with God, Community Christian Church in North Canton, Ohio has called me to be their next senior minister. I joyfully accepted this call. My last Sunday at Lindenwood will be December 8th.

We will have time to say goodbye well. We will have time to remember, to grieve, to worship, to celebrate and to pray together over the next 8 weeks until my final Sunday.

When I leave, I will take your teachings with me. I will remember the sacred moments of ministry we created together. And most of all, I will carry love and appreciation for each of you with me on my future path.

You are in good hands here at Lindenwood. I know that God embraces this thriving church with compassion, mercy, adoration and grace. You have great leaders, dedicated staff, clear vision and a bright future.

Thank you for carrying me, teaching me, shaping me, and preparing me for this next call. You have been Christ’s heart and Christ’s presence to me.
Much heart,

Reverend Sarah Taylor Peck

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3 on 3: A Pet Blessing

Oliver 2

+ I now establish my covenant with you… and with every living creature that was with you: the birds, the livestock and all the animals… every living creature on earth. Genesis 9:9-10

This month marks 3 years on 3 legs for sweet little Oliver. He still purrs and over-eats and follows me around. He runs faster than ever. He plays with toy mice and shoelaces. He still sneaks outside if I leave the door open too long when I come home. Oliver is happy.

He beat the odds for cats with injection-site sarcoma.

On one of my recent hobbles around the neighborhood, I passed the Immaculate Conception ‘Blessing of the Animals’ service. The memories flooded back for me.

Three years ago, I took Oliver to that service. I remember gently lifting him out of his carrier. I felt protective of his half shaved body and the 8-inch wound held together with giant silver staples and black stitches. He lost his leg days before the blessing ceremony.

Father Val gently stroked him and whispered words of love to Oliver. He rubbed anointing oil on Oliver’s head. He gave us a small St. Francis charm to remind us of these holy moments of prayer.

I believe that blessing nudged Oliver down the road of healing- and I know that it helped heal my own aching heart as Oliver recovered.

Oliver has been my witness over the past decade. He’s been my prayer partner (he always seems to snuggle close during my morning devotion). He’s been my most patient listener and the first hearer of my sermons through the years. He’s been a comforter and an encourager to me.

Some might think animal blessings are silly, or excessive, or even inappropriate. But on the anniversary of Oliver’s amputation, I remember the tender blessing that Father Val offered Oliver and I’m grateful.

In my ministry I intend to maintain this [potentially silly and excessive] practice of blessing pets around this time of year–because this ceremony meant so much to me.

On Sunday, October 20th, at 4pm we’re having a pet blessing at Lindenwood Christian Church. We’ll gather in the garden, and all pets are welcome. All witnesses, prayer partners, patient listeners, comforters and encouragers are welcome. I think even sweet little Oliver will show up- I mean, you can never receive too many blessings.

Oliver3<

What if The Church Shut Down?

shutdown

Everybody’s talking about it. The U.S. government shut down this week. My conservative friends are outraged. My liberal friends are outraged. My moderate friends are outraged. Safe to say- we are all outraged by this.

I am decidedly not a political person. I don’t follow politics closely. I probably should. But on days like today, and weeks like this week- I am so glad I invest very little in all of it.

But here’s what I do know: when you work for an organization that is responsible for taking care of the least of these, guiding the masses to a more just and ordered existence, and living in to your call as a leader and a steward of other people’s resources—you cannot shut down.

This could be the government. This could be The Church.

In The Church, there are times when I feel so convicted about actions being taken ‘in the name of The Church’ that I believe we should shut down. When Westboro Baptist pickets funerals, or preachers spew hate from the pulpit, or “Christians” tear down their neighbors because of our differences in: gender, race, sexuality, or abilities- I desperately want to suggest that we close up shop and SHUT DOWN simply based on my principals and beliefs.

And in The Church- there are times when I am so outraged when I see fellow church leaders sabotaging our work for wholeness, holiness, grace, and mercy- that I want to point fingers, I want to blame. I want to protest.

But at the end of the day- before I let myself get lost in the shallow, bitter conflicts of being the Church in a broken world- I try to remember our purpose.

The church is simply a human-made, flawed structure. And even with its flaws and weaknesses, at the heart of the church, we are called to create spaces of grace. The church aims to provide services to all people, food for the hungry, shelter for the needy, justice for the meek, and safety for the least of these.

I believe in the mission of the Church too much to allow my own convictions and personal grievances to shut it down. I am not willing to compromise all the services and lifelines the church offers even when the actions and inactions of the church embarrass me, devastate me and make me want to rise up in protest.

I read a letter written by a little girl who lost the opportunity to go to a National Park on a school field trip this week because of the government shut down. Her letter suggested that congress and the president try to sit down and negotiate a resolution to their conflict the way she and her classmates do in the 3rd grade. 

My prayer is the same.

If I could say one thing to all those in this conflict:

From one leader in a human-made, flawed structure to others:  Please, get back to work.

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