Reverend Bill Klossner
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of His glory, He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21 (NRSV)
The Apostle Paul wrote these words while he was in prison to the house gatherings (not a church like we imagine it) in Ephesus. Ephesus was a multi-cultural important trading port and crossroad of the world in the day. The entire letter is a message on how followers of Jesus should order their lives, relating to all family members, those who are different, and he writes it into a culturally chaotic, temptation-laden environment in which his implied purpose is to instruct and encourage Ephesian believers in their calling to unity as the Body of Christ, both Jew and Gentile, and in their growing in Christian maturity.
It is as though Paul is saying, Yes, you are in fact individuals with your own individual strengths, weaknesses, preferences and gifts – BUT these individual attributes are to be subservient to the collective Body of Christ, that is, to the community living in harmony and unity in Christ. It is not to be the other way around, where the Church exists as a place to build, house and showcase “me, myself & I.”
My friends in the Pilgrim Church family, I only wish that I was as eloquent as Paul as I write to you for this last time. It has been both my privilege and perhaps one of the most challenging opportunities to serve as your supply preacher for the past six months. I know, it was only supposed to be for two weeks, but God had plans that none of us could have ever imagined. To lead worship remotely, recording as I often did from the butterfly pavilion and other locations in the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, was a once-in-a-career experience (I hope!).
We have all survived, we have all been changed, and we have all experienced loss of fellowship in communal worship, frustration of unfulfilled plans, even depression, not knowing the course of this virus that has touched the world. Despite all the angst, Pilgrim will be embracing a new Senior Pastor just around the corner. You will be blessed by the ministry of Pastor John and enlivened by Cathy and Charlie. They are wonderful people. I know you will welcome his leadership and his faithfulness with joy, hope and promise.
I selected the segment of the Ephesian letters, not just because I’ve been privileged to walk the streets of the city, imagining myself to be in the footsteps of Paul. I selected it because of the final verses: “to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.” Nothing is more important to the local congregation, to Pilgrim Church, than to be reminded at all times, but even more so at the advent of a new pastor’s arrival, that God has called you and equipped you to do even more than you “can ask or imagine,” to share the love of God through Jesus to one another and to the community. I have seen it in your past, and I can see it in your future.
I close with my deepest thanks to every one of you, and the congregation’s leaders, especially Don Anderson, as well as my colleagues for these past months, Pastor Ken Ewing and Cat Foster. My thoughts end with the memory of the theme of the 2011 UCC General Synod held in Tampa, which always reminds me, “Imagine What’s Possible!” Keep Imagining, Pilgrim people!
Blessings to you all and may God’s Spirit touch you always, Rev. Bill Klossner
Pastor Ken Ewing
Everyone experiences a loss of some kind during their life. Each one of us deal with our loss in different ways and manners. Some folks find constructive ways of responding to loss. While others seem inconsolable. I have done a number of memorial services over the years, I have observed the mourners react differently depending upon their faith commitment. Folks who have a strong faith foundation find comfort in their faith and faith community. Those who do not have such a faith base could not be comforted in their grieving.
Dealing with our loss seems to me to be dependent on the kind of loss. We may deal with the loss of a loved one differently from a loss of a job, or sense of self, or a significant relationship, or health, or meaning to life. For me the loss of my first wife to kidney cancer and my own deterring health issues raised different emotions and responses. At the same time there was several constants which helped me deal with my losses.
At the heart of dealing with my losses was a gracious God. My faith helped me affirm the underlying support for me comes from God. Scripture affirms that Jesus shared with his disciples that when He was gone from them He would send the Holy Spirit, the comforter to be with them. We are also beneficiareis of that gift.
God has also given me the gift of a great family, strong communities of faith, the mentor of Jesus as Lord and friend, and the process of remembering, which promotes healing and provides comfort. All these gifts are helpful, and used in different ways depending upon the loss.
Throughout my life and series of losses two things remain of significant importance for me. They are a strong faith in Jesus the Christ, and a sense of humor. Both are important to me and I believe needed in life to deal with loss and setbacks and life itself. Amen.
Yesterday, August 30, this congregation took the historic step of extending a call to Pastor John to serve as your next Senior Pastor. The enthusiasm of attendees that I witnessed following the service lets me know that though this has been a long process, God’s Spirit has been alive through it all.
At one point in my life I was probably not very patient. Some things seemed to be so good that waiting was such a distraction. I wanted to be able to move on, experience the next adventure, the next door that opened to me, the next chapter in my life. Life with my family was always fulfilling and my ministry provided the rewards and challenges that kept me impatiently waiting for the next nudging from God to see where I would be led.
What an unusual moment in time we are experiencing. What has been familiar and even comforting for us is now not possible. The congregation’s worship, often a weekly uplifting lifeline for social and spiritual fellowship, has been transformed into a virtual experience for all of us. I’m sure you join with me in missing the face-to-face contact that lets us catch up with one another every seven days.
We read in the thirteenth chapter of the John about Jesus’ teachable moment at the Last Supper. He and his disciples were in an upper room preparing to celebrate the Passover Meal. Jesus was aware it was near the end of his days on earth. He used the moment to teach his disciples a valuable lesson of how they should relate to others.
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