“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” Philippians 1.
These words of St. Paul, inspired by the Holy spirit, go a long way in capturing my life in this community with you as a Pastor. Thank God for joys, failures, exciting moments, and ugly days. Our Lord Jesus has used all these situations and circumstances to mold us into His treasured people. In our trials and smiles Jesus holds us tightly and won’t let go. Crying with you at weddings and funerals, laughing with you at unexpected moments during worship, your children making my ministry unpredictable, and realizing every day is a blessed opportunity to live in God’s promises are all a part of the memories I share with you.
I am a sinful pastor, and I know that even more as I pass through life, but Jesus is greater than my sin, and He is greater than your sin as well. He has cleansed, conquered, and connected with you in your baptism. You are His dear child, and you can gladly say it. I would not be a pastor without my congregation and the Bishop community. You have ridden along side me in the thick and thin of life. A lot of fall out happens in the church. Many of the people who leave were once close to you and me. God is glorified even in these separations. Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.
When the devil seems to be winning, God is on the march and is holding us with His bloody hands and feet. He knows of splitting and separation like no other. For you He was separated from His Father to win our eternal day. In these days of political disunity, economic uncertainty, changing sexual identities, family divisions and strife, (and at this moment you can name ten more issues facing you today), we move boldly forward because of a Savior who marches with us and carries us all the way to heaven.
I am retiring from fulltime ministry with a wonderful wife who is at my side in all my weaknesses and worries. My congregation has been a friend to her and to my children and grandchildren. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” The best memories are yet to be shared in heaven with our Lord who has prepared a place for us, that we may be with Him and all the redeemed of God.
Sunday is Reformation Day in the Lutheran Church and we celebrate the freedom we have receiving forgiveness and salvation from Jesus.
(The Rev. Kent Puls serves both Grace Lutheran and Mammoth Lakes Lutheran churches. Grace Lutheran Church is located at 711 N. Fowler St. Bishop. Sunday services are at 10:45 a.m. For more information, call (760) 872-9791.)