01 Oct Seeking God within the Earthly
With the arrival of October, I enter into my final month of ministry. I was ordained in June of 1984 and have served three congregations in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Glendale, Arizona, and Rumson. A sense of being called, however, began in childhood. I would sense something more in worship, in nature, in solitude, and in relationships which pointed me to an ultimate loving mystery which we call God. I knew that this was true home and true direction. A deep experience of God in October of my senior year of high school set in motion the direction of my life. College and seminary were years of examination, struggle, and preparation for this direction.
In church life, there is a horizontal and vertical dimension. The horizontal includes our human relationships and work together. There is also the vertical dimension which is beyond our understanding or control. At our best, the horizontal is in service of the vertical. I think that this is why funerals have become so meaningful for me. It is there that our usual way of perceiving our world is disrupted, and we find ourselves standing humbly before a reality which is beyond us. Our sense of self is broken, and if we are fortunate, broken open into an experience of the vertical. Yes, we are undone, and yet, we also feel held by something much, much greater. We experience sorrow and support simultaneously.
This is one moment in which we draw near to the vertical, or better, when the vertical draws near to us. What Jesus told us in so many ways was that when we die to our horizontal selves or empty ourselves of this self, the vertical is able to rush in and fill us. But most of the time, we are tempted to hold onto this horizontal self, because the vertical seems so far removed. Of course, this dimension is not far away. We are blocked from perceiving it, because we are holding on and it can only fill us when we let go.
Both you and I are involved in a process of letting go. We have agreed to dissolve our relationship as pastor and church. Yes, there is the horizontal dimension of this reality. If we do this work well, however, there is also the potential for us to experience the vertical dimension of this parting. The heart must be involved. Rosanne and I are so grateful for both dimensions. We have loved our life in Rumson, and we have loved how we have experienced God in our time here. We are humbled by it all and dedicate ourselves to an ever-growing search for God as we let go into our new life. Thanks for your friendship and openness to God. We will miss you and pray for you. In these final weeks, we look forward to seeing you in church!