by Mike Clemmer, leadership minister
On Sunday, June 30, I preached my last sermon as the pastor of Towamencin Mennonite Church.
I had the privilege of serving at Towamencin for 14 wonderful years, yet, in the past year, my wife and I have sensed the Lord’s call on our lives to transition into a new ministry opportunity. For Towamencin, this means that they will now to need seek out and call a new pastor. For April and me, it is beginning a journey of exploring the unknown lands of the Lancaster area so that we can use our gifts of ministry in a church near our family.
Leaving Towamencin and the Franconia area are certainly big changes for me – but I am also aware that it is a big change for the congregation. We always say, “transition and change are both part of life,” but, in reality, change hits us all hard.
We as Eastern District and Franconia Conferences are also in the midst of change as we move towards a reconciled and merged conference this Fall. Unfortunately, times of change often bring about a period of anxiety and fear. I have seen some of these emotions at times in my own life, at Towamencin, and within both Conferences.
In the midst of transition, however, I am also amazed at how often I have seen God at work – in my own life, but also growth and renewal at Towamencin – as well as in the Conferences. It is helpful to remember that God is always at work and promises to be with us always. So perhaps, in times of transition, we need to lay aside our anxieties and simply celebrate what God has already done and put more of an effort into anticipating what God is about to do.
My wife April recently wrote these words in a Lenten devotional regarding change:
On this journey of life, I find myself once again in a place of waiting on God: for direction, for clarity, for peace. Change is on the horizon, and with that comes excitement, but also some anxiety and fear. In my humanness, I like to know “the plan,” … to have a picture of what’s ahead … to be in control. But we don’t always have the luxury of these things. Change isn’t always easy, but I’ve heard it said that growth doesn’t come without change. During this time of waiting, I see that God is helping me grow by building a deeper trust in Him and a humility in me. I’m reminded that this isn’t about “me,” but about what God is planning to do. And I’m seeing this as a time of preparation for whatever lies ahead.
The words “waiting” and “preparation” are great words to reflect on as we deal with the emotions that transition and change bring into our life. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Isn’t it amazing how God knows we often need to hear that reminder twice … Wait for the Lord!
As we continue to pray for our churches and our upcoming reconciliation of Conferences, may we also approach these uncertain times by preparing for what God is about to do by simply waiting on the Lord! Wait … Wait … “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19)