You know the saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same"? That thought kept running through my mind Sunday as our pastor of 19 years (!!!!!) stepped down to partially retire. The transition from our associate pastor moving to the role of senior pastor has been planned and in the works for a couple of years, so it wasn't a harsh, abrupt thing.
It isn't like Jake died suddenly and we were all left in the lurch. It isn't like he won't be attending our church anymore, because he will be.
It isn't really like there is a huge sense of loss either, at least not on my part. I still get to see him, talk to him, interact with him. I still get to tell him the funny things my children do.
Sunday morning when I walked into church I glanced at the darkened sanctuary. We normally have 2 services so the sanctuary is not dark when I arrive. As I glanced in, I saw Jake sitting there alone with just his thoughts for company.
I quietly slipped in the back and sat next to him in the pew. I didn't say much ( I know...hard to imagine), I did say he was forbidden from dying. I simply wouldn't allow it. We chatted about chastening, and he told me I could not send my girlies to him because he was done with that. But I know if he ever sees them behave in a way that is wrong, he will step up and correct them. We talked about how we were all younger when he first came to our church. He was only a couple years older than my dear man is now. My mind kept going to the day in May of 1995 when I wore white and walked down that aisle that seemed 10 years long. We chatted about weddings and agreed that mine was the best. (I might have been the one to say it and he might have just agreed and I might be just a little bit biased.) He told me a friend of his preferred funerals to weddings because "he's never buried someone who became unburied."
I kept quietly wondering what it will be like to have a pastor who is less than a year older than I am. I haven't ever had a peer be my pastor. I do know, that while I love both men, I won't have the same relationship with Dan as I have with Jake. Jake has, maybe unknowing, stepped in and filled a lack in my life. I've been mentored by him and his wife, I've looked to them, I've watched them and thought, "I want to be like that!"
I went into the darkened, almost un-inhabited sanctuary early Sunday morning to minister, but I am the one who walked away ministered too.