On Sunday I celebrated my 17th year in the parish ministry. Actually, I didn't celebrate at all. I didn't mention it at church. We didn't throw a party at home. Usually, the 17th of anything doesn't get much notice.
Mostly I just gave thanks to God for seeing me through these years. Serving as a pastor is hard, much harder than I ever imagined. I make so many mistakes. I seem to fail with amazing regularity. I relate to what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans, seven. I do the things I don't want to do and fail to do the things I should really do - and I do so all the time! What a wretched pastor I am! Praise God that we have victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Over 17 years I've watched God at work - forgiving sins, giving and strengthening faith, providing hope for today and eternity - through the Means of Grace, Word and Sacraments. I've seen the joy the Word gives to a Mom and her newborn and I've seen the comfort the Word gives to an elderly wife who has said goodbye to her husband.
I've had the privilege of serving three congregations - in Missouri, South Carolina and now Arizona. Each congregation richly blessed Sherri and my kids and I. I've been on the receiving end of much love and respect and concern. I am one blessed pastor.
On my ordination day I asked the Lord to give me 20 good years of ministry. God has answered that prayer and more. On Sunday I thanked Him for the opportunity to be an under shepherd to the Good Shepherd of the Sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ. To God goes all the praise and glory! Amen.