“ON TAKING LEAVE”
By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11
Most pastors get to write one last letter to a congregation. This is not that letter. Call it an announcement to such. That letter gets tagged to one last sermon. I’m not preaching here… but this is my week to write that letter and preach that message. May 31, 2020 is my last Sunday as the pastor at New Life Lutheran Church in Pearland. Please keep reading.
Someone offered me up another coffee mug this last week. It read… “Old ministers never die—they just go out to pastor.” I suppose that’s true, yet my role as New Life’s pastor will disappear and a new role of Pearland citizen with a heart for Christ’s church and calling people to faith in the trustworthy message of the gospel will remain. It’s the end of a chapter… one that’s been unfolding for 23 years… in a long string of chapters that will someday be included in the book of my life. There’s more living to do and what is happening is a ‘leave taking’ not from life… but from a particular role in life I’ve had since 1981… serving four congregations in almost forty years. Faith matters. It does.
You see, it started even before that. I’m a kid who grew up in the church in the 50’s and 60’s. I went to Sunday School every week and I was president of my youth group. I went to a national Lutheran youth gathering in 1970 to New York City with 20,000 attendees. It was awesome. Truth be told, however, I spent far more time, though, playing basketball in those days than I ever did going to church or reading my Bible. But, as I look back… God has been the most faithful in all this… even as it seemed it was basketball… not God’s Spirit… calling me to Texas from NE Ohio back in 1972. At least that’s what I thought back then. But God had a different plan as I never played one game for Texas Lutheran University, changed my major entering my junior year and was seminary bound by graduation day… all for ‘welfare’ according to Jeremiah the prophet.
Please understand, I loved God and all of that since I was young, but never considered myself cut out for or worthy enough to be called, ‘pastor.’ But, then again, God is full of surprises… always knowing us better than we know ourselves. And now for two-thirds of my life this has been my ‘future and my hope’ and thus I have no cause to brag or complain. God’s voice is certain and trustworthy… even though one must understand God’s Spirit will take you places you never thought you’d go… and when it comes to places… Taylor, TX… Huntsville, TX… New Orleans and Pearland weren’t on my list… yet God is great and good as the people I met there and the things we accomplished together were certainly a reflection of the risen Christ… the one in whose name we gathered, served and had our very being!
Recently, I heard Rudy Tomjanovich say, “Everyone has dreams in life, and I can honestly say my life has turned out better than my dreams.” I echo that. I wanted to play in the NBA. I wanted to live in the mountains. But, that was then… this is now… and my life has been fuller than I’d ever imagined and better than I’d ever hoped… So, now I enter a new time of life… trusting still these words of Jesus… “Take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, and pastor of New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Towne Pearland. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi Your comments and/or questions can be sent to [email protected].