Dear Friends in Faith,
A Christian writer whom I enjoy, Kathleen Norris, said this about the Christmas story: “Mary proceeds—as we must do in life—making her commitment without knowing much about what it will entail or where it will lead.”
In December of 1984 my phone rang in the parsonage of Viking Lutheran Parish in Viking, Minnesota. A total strangers voice on the other end of the call told me about a strange congregation in a strange city in a part of Wisconsin I had never been in.
The woman would become a dear friend: Thelma Bergum Hurd. The congregation, Faith Lutheran Church, and the community, Columbus, would be to me a blessing beyond what I could have even imagined on that December day in northern Minnesota.
I came to Columbus on the conviction that God was calling me to go, even though I had only a brief visit and interview to go on. Lynne had even less. She is not a “whatever you say dear” kind of wife, but she moved with me to Columbus and into the Faith parsonage sight-unseen!
Next month my family and I and you, brothers and sisters, who are Faith Lutheran Church, will have been traveling together for 32 years! Much has happened to all of us over that long time. There have been many hilltops and some valleys too along that road; but, always, God has been faithful.
Faith and Columbus will always be a part of me and my family. We love you and it! We will always be part of you too, I know. I can envision someone who is not familiar with Faith looking at its history in 2020. (I hope someone will take on the task of updating the history Erma Mowbray wrote for the 25th anniversary.) I can imagine them saying “Wow, Pastor Moberg sure was here for a long time!”
Now, in 2017, our roads will diverge again. At the Annual meeting this month (January 22nd) I will make a formal announcement of my retirement. It will certainly be an “Ebenezer” (milestone) for all of us. The practice of my own Christian faith will change radically when I go back to sitting in the pew on Sundays for the first time since I was ordained in 1981! Faith’s life will change when a new interim pastor arrives and the process begins to find a called pastor.
There are many at Faith who have never experienced this congregation without me as pastor; but we are not the same thing, Faith and I. My relationship with God will go on. So will yours.
The road turns – but it continues on. God, being God, will have no trouble accompanying all of us, even when our roads diverge! I want to suggest that the theme of this year of change might be Psalm 136 with its repeated and repeated reassurance “for his steadfast love endures forever!”
Pr. Bob Moberg