The Pastor at our church is an amazing man who my wife and I first met at a Stephen’s Minister recruiting seminar. He was seated at our table and we got to talking about ourselves, and he mentioned that he was the Pastor for a new church in our town.
Now my wife and I were immediately interested because we were tired of all the politics going on in our current church, plus our church was in its sixth month of looking for a new full-time pastor. The church was cycling through a lot of interim pastors and it was just not the kind of stability we wanted.
So this new pastor mentioned he was substituting for another pastor; in a church nearby; who was on vacation, and that if we wanted to come hear him preach we were welcome. We went there the next Sunday and after services my wife said to me “I want to go to that man’s church”. We were both blown away by his sermon, and have been ever since then. We started attending with the first service, signed up for new member classes and started worshiping with the new church members in a school cafeteria.
Our Pastor is one of the most intelligent, well read, and knowledgeable theologians we have ever had the pleasure to know. Pastor is a caring, loving shepherd for a congregation that adores him. Our church family is our second family, and we love and care for them all.
If you were to poll the members of the congregation as to why they attend our church, it’s Pastor’s sermons. His sermons are faithful to scripture, they are well thought out, and he quotes some of histories greatest theologians, philosophers and teachers. Some of his heroes in life are Martin Luther, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C. S. Lewis and Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss). That’s right, he has on numerous occasions quoted or read from Dr. Seuss (I did not know the Dr. Seuss books were so spiritual).
He has given sermons that make you think, laugh, cry and wonder. One year at Christmas, he gave a sermon about the smells of Christmas, which sounds benign enough; but he wasn’t talking about pine trees and cookies baking, etc., he was talking about the smells of the stable, the animals, the hay and the manure. Really made the birth of Christ more interesting.
Pastor is a very sensitive and emotional man who is known to choke up during his sermons when talking about something or someone close to him. During Holy Week, he does services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil on Saturday and of course Easter Sunday.
His Good Friday service is an old traditional service called Tenebrae (which is Latin for shadows). It is one of the most somber, moving and emotional services I have ever experienced. The service starts with all the lights turned on, and as the Easter Gospel is read and different points lights are turned out until at one point the sanctuary is totally dark. The most emotional and heart tearing part of the service is called the Reproaches. Pastor starts at one section of seats and reads the first set of reproaches, then moves to the next set of seats and so on.
The Reproaches are difficult to listen to, the are reprimands for our sins, it’s like being disciplined by Christ Himself. If you can imagine Christ telling you what your sins are, to your face, then you know what this service feels like.
Easter however, is a huge joyous celebration, which ends with the choir singing Handel’s Messiah. It’s beautiful.
Everything about our church and church family is wonderful except our Pastor has only a couple of years or so till he retires. He will be truly missed, and always loved by all of us that have had the opportunity to know him.
We love you Pastor Tom!
God peace and blessings to all.