The Rev. Laurel Hart, Deacon
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. As all natural things do come to an end, the time has arrived for my leave taking from St. Luke’s. I’ve been with this parish for 8 years. I have walked with the community during times of joy and times of sorrow. We’ve done some wonderful work together such as the Lenten season when we sewed 200 menstrual hygiene kits which we sent to Kenya with Kizimani Ministries. That sewing project was no small feat. You listened and responded with questions when I preached about my personal awakening to the continuing scourge of racism and white privilege in our country. Then, when our national church offered a wonderful 10-week study program so we could delve deeper into these topics, we walk through the hard work of Sacred Ground together. The pandemic – wow- volumes will be written about that experience – let’s just say we walk that rocky path together.
So now to reflect briefly on the first reading – the words of which are so familiar to us. It's a comfort to hear that our God has known us since before we were conceived as this affirms our worthiness as his people. Just as God sent Jeremiah to prophesy, we also have been set apart for specific tasks or God has called us to a specific purpose. Each of you know in your heart what that is supposed to be for you whether it's standing up for issues of social justice or working with the less abled or tending to the to the needs of children we all have a purpose under heaven and in our communities.
God told Jeremiah that he should not focus on his youth or inability. He should focus rather on obedience and on dependence. That is, he should do what God tells him to do, and he should do so with trust that God will accompany him in his mission and deliver him from his opponents. We have this same promise from God. But sometimes we have to dig into our hearts and seek out support for our community to enable us to link into our well of trust in God. When we listen to this text we can hear a validation of our own spiritual experience of doubt and uncertainty when each of us is faced with their own sense of God’s call. As an ordained deacon part of my call is to encourage and affirm the work of this community out in the world. I have every confidence the work will continue whether or not there is a deacon assigned to this parish.
After September 4th, I will no longer be the deacon here and will be leaving. It doesn’t mean that I will never see any of you again, but if we do see each other, it will be in a different relationship. Good professional boundaries mean that while I will, of course, respond to any requests for information, I will not be available for anything that concerns ongoing work of this community. This is standard practice when an ordained person leaves, and it is a good thing. It creates the necessary space that will allow you to develop a good relationship should another deacon be assigned to this parish. I took a lifetime vow of obedience to my Bishop almost eleven years ago and I will continue in service to our diocese for the committees, etc. to which I have been assigned. I will continue as a volunteer Chaplain at Legacy Mt. Hood Hospital so we might cross paths there. I have been in conversation with Bishop Diana and due to special circumstances my family will probably continue to be present to worship with this community for the foreseeable future.
So, I bid you a loving farewell friends with a quote from Peter Gomes from his book The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus, “the question should not be ‘What would Jesus do?’ but rather, more dangerously, ‘What would Jesus have me do?’ The onus is on us.” And I add that is directed to all of us including me. Amen.