The Bible is a narrative of people moving on. Whether it focuses on the movement of a people from slavery to the challenges of independence or a fledgling group of believers who move into a wider world with Resurrection at their backs, the hand of God is always seen in the community of faith opening new possibilities for growth and mission. Scripture always points us ahead – to the new, the possible, bidding us to leave behind the familiar. “Put out into deep water,” Jesus tells his friends (Luke 5:4), “and put your nets out for a catch,” urging us to move expectantly into uncertain places.

 St. Luke’s has had an incredibly productive interim period, and it appears that soon a call will be issued to your next Rector. The Search Committee has been working for months to discern who God is calling to lead the parish into the next chapter of its life, and is about to make a recommendation to the Vestry. Assuming all parties are in agreement, the new year will see a new ministry emerging in this place.

 It has been an extraordinary privilege for me to work with you during the Interim period, but now it is important that the congregation be able to move past Interim times into new beginnings. As a result, I announced to the Vestry at its meeting last Sunday that my last day at St. Luke’s will be December 30. In the same way that it was important for the parish to have a break between permanent Rectors, it is important to have a break between my ministry here and the ministry of your next priest. The parish will be served by supply clergy until such time as a new Rector can be present to begin their work.

 While our time together is at an end, it is not an end to be mourned but rather to be celebrated. Jane and I are profoundly grateful to have been a part of your life as you look ahead and we carry you with us in thanksgiving for your loving welcome and embrace. Being a part of St. Luke’s life has added immeasurably to our own lives and we feel truly blessed to have had this time with you. We know that your next Rector will thrive in this place of warmth and care.

 However, a word about etiquette

 Out of respect for your next priest, recognizing that emotional ties can often complicate, I will be strictly observing an old and time tested tradition in the church: I will absent myself completely from relationships I have formed here. While I will carry you in my heart and in my daily praying, it is important that I be well and truly gone from St. Luke’s day to day life – both ecclesiastically and socially. I won’t be available for coffee dates or meals or chats on the phone. It is of vital importance that your Rector have the opportunity to build trusting relationships with each of you without the specter of “Old Doug” lurking in the background. I’m afraid there are no “Yes, but…”s here.

That being said…

 There is no question but that we will see each other again. Jane and I will continue to be active in the life of the Diocese and will no doubt see folks from St. Luke’s in the years ahead. We are, after all, family and whether our next greeting be on this plane or the next, we will be tied to one another through the Spirit of God forever.

One distinct joy…

 …is that I will celebrate a special anniversary with you before my departure. December 21 marks the 44th anniversary of my ordination to the Sacred Order of Priests. I will gratefully observe that day when we gather on December 23, the Third Sunday of Advent.

Bishop Hanley’s Visitation

 Last Sunday’s visitation by the Bishop was a wonderful morning– the Church was full and the atmosphere joyful as two individuals were confirmed, four received into the Episcopal Church and two more reaffirmed their Baptismal vows.  Our congratulations to Cynthia Markum, Sid Welch, Barry Brandt, Lainey Johnston, Roberta Peterson, Marcy Ross, Joan King and Evalyn Plumke.

Pets in need…

 Pick up for the Pixie Project – the group that is collecting pet products for dogs and cats rescued from the California wildfires – is Friday, December 21. Please bring dog or cat food, new or gently used pet toys, beds, etc. to church before then. Thank you!

Christmas Schedule

 On Christmas Eve, we will enjoy a festive celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 5:00 pm. On Christmas morning, our observance will be at 10:00 am. And remember Good King Wenceslas? How he looked out on the Feast of Stephen? While I can’t say I’d like to see the snow lay round about, we too will celebrate the Feast of Stephen on December 26 at 6:30 pm for our Wednesday evening service of Holy Communion and Healing.