May 30, 2012
My home church installed our new pastor barely a week ago, and a single moment from that equally joyful and weighty occasion has gripped me ever since: Pastor Ikki Soma on his knees before the gathered assembly, wearing like a mantle the hands of the elders of the church as they prayed over him.
I knew the moment was rich when I saw it unfold, but later, looking at the photographs, I kept coming back to that one shot, and the “hands on” prayer it represented.
Our former pastor was beloved. There was no scandal involved in his leaving; no drama or secret hurt or power play. (I’ve been a church girl for a long time–so I feel compelled to say this.) Our dear pastor simply accepted God’s call to another church, in another state. And we grieved.
Then we rested in the sovereignty of God, trusted the wisdom of the process our denomination outlined for us, formed a search committee and moved ahead. I’d never served on a search committee before, and may never again. But I’m grateful for the privilege of serving on this one. For a year, the seven of us held our church in our hearts, and sought God’s man for City of Refuge. In the process, we learned what church should teach at every turn: we learned to hear, love, and respect each other, and we learned to seek God together. In our backgrounds, our giftings, our personalities and quirks, we were as diverse as the church family we love. And the differences that made our work a struggle at times made it a blessing in the end. Isn’t that just like God?
He was faithful. He always is. He brought us our pastor, and He brought us together in that decision. And as hard as it was to say goodbye to the shepherd we loved, my heart is full when I think of the future and the shepherd who leads us now. So forgive me if I get a little misty about those hands in the picture. They are a snapshot of our family of faith, of the process we’ve been through together, and of God’s great faithfulness to us, His bride.
And they’re a picture of one more thing: We don’t do this Christ-following walk alone. Ever. The prayers of the saints surround us, the fellowship of God’s beloved body holds us up, and we are empowered together on our knees. Church is a hands-on affair. Not just hands-on in service projects and Sunday worship…but in support of each other, through the power of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t leave us alone, and the hands that rest on each of us serve to remind us of His. We’re never out of our Father’s reach when we’re within reach of each other.
“So I ask you to make full use of the gift that God gave you when I placed my hands on you. Use it well.” (2 Timothy 1:6 CEV)
“Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say.”