One of the lessons we learn from God's teaching throughout the generations is that whenever there is a call there is a subsequent conflict. To be called by God is to be led from one place to another, from a place of our choosing to a place of God's choosing. This call leading to conflict is modeled throughout the pages of scripture from the Old Testament through the New Testament. It can be found in Jacob's wrestling match with God, Moses leading Israel through the wilderness, the countless Judges along with their personal and corporate struggles, the prophets call and conflicts are etched in our minds alongside those of Paul and Jesus Christ.
The reminders of what attaches to our calling linger and list about us. They serve as beacons to comfort us when the conflicts we face seem greater in scope and scale than the calling itself. We might find ourselves shaking in fear or seized with doubt, not about the calling but about whether we can weather the storms of conflict we now face.
Last week, your Session faced just such a situation. We give thanks for the calling of each Elder who has served and is serving. Each of these individuals has responded to the call from God and the affirmation of the congregation as ones called to serve with energy, imagination, intelligence and love. It is with sadness that three of our Elders resigned from Session last week and while we regret their decision, we lift up their service as a model to elders past, present and future.
Jerry Lazore and Sara Viña both resigned, effectively immediately. While their resignations reflect different reasons, both leave the Session due to their firm conviction that they are no longer able to serve as Milner needs them to do. While we may agree or disagree on this perception, we honor their decision with the same trust and confidence as the decisions they've made before. We thank them for their service and commit them to our prayers. Mark Little submitted a letter of resignation effective December 31, 2017. We thank Mark for extending his final date to the year's end, not only for the space it provides us to accommodate the changes his resignation creates, but also because his current leadership is so much needed.
I could say more and likely should, but I will leave further comments for another day. I'd like to return to the opening of this blog for a final word. Milner, you are called to be light and salt. When you are light and salt, the world will not always recognize nor value what you offer. Conflict and challenges will arise. You will find more reasons to doubt than to persevere, but persevere you must. God will be with us to lead and guide us. We are all temporary shepherds called to lead and guide, and at times follow, from place of Session. God will continue God's good work in the Session with new leadership. So for now, we give thanks for what God has done in and through Jerry, Sarah, and Mark; for what God is doing through Dorothy, Julia, Bill, Gene, Elbis, and Cindy; and what God promises to do in the future as yet unseen. Praise be to God, both now and forever, AMEN.