Lend me a hand, Francis, and pull me onto the road leading to the sun, sunrise and sunset, ending up who-knows-where in trust.
Take my hand, Jesus, and pull me out of the sea ebbing into the past, sunset to sunrise, leaving behind who-knows-what to trust.
The road is fearfully new. My doing had a lot of being in it. Now my being must discover what to do. The tide of yesterday inevitably pulls out.
Take my hand, Francis, and walk with me on the way – you who stopped wondering where you were going, and help me listen to the birds sing.
Lend me your hand, Jesus, and keep me from sinking – you who became small and suffered so in love, please make my way full of your heart song.
The road is wonderfully new. I feel guilty for sleeping eight hours last night. I’m a kitten on grass in a strange backyard. The tide of tomorrow is pulling down my castle as the sun dawns on another Francis Day.
A lot of us among the Circle of Hope are listing all the ways Joshua Grace has been a great servant to us as our pastor. His resignation marks a brand new day, in many ways, since he has been a fixture for twenty years and our pastor for nearly fifteen years. No one could replace him. We’re glad we won’t have to do that, since we expect him back after four months of personal reconstruction starting in October.
The old beginning
I have a lot to say about Joshua’s gifts and contributions: musician, maverick, imagineer, innovator, justice-seeker and jock. I have been there for the whole journey and am glad for the honor.
But I don’t want to seem like I’m summing up a subject many are working on. So let me start with the beginning and stay there.
I don’t have a great memory, but I do remember some of my first days relating to Joshua. He resembled this picture above much of the time. A bike messenger, and musician ready to give worship the Nine Digit Number influence, and a man who was very young to have the amount of insight he had about how to plant a church. By the time we were doing our second attempt at congregation multiplication, the leaders passed over a number of good candidates to appoint Joshua as one of the youngest pastors ever. Here he is being launched one time:
Why this responsibility did not kill him remains to be seen (one of his fans will probably write an article). But instead of killing him, it motivated him to pick up a sledge and make a meeting spot for Circle of Hope “East.” I had fun being something of an odd couple with him at times and had loads of relating as the pastor team for years as we lost and added mates. I think he had fun too.
The new beginning
I won’t go through the whole history and prove to you how I admire Joshua Grace. Let me stick with the beginning, namely: the beginning that he is experiencing now.
Cell leaders lead and then they don’t for a while. Same with the other leaders of our movement. We’re flexible like that and really try to understand that our leaders are part of an organic/spiritual process, not merely on a career path. So in the last few years, we have been strangely flexible with our pastors. We transferred Nate to Director of Operations and Ben stepped in for Marlton Pike. I soon followed with a transitional role as Development Pastor and Rachel stepped up for South Broad. Julie was called out of an apprentice pastor process and became the pastor for Ridge Ave. Now we have consolidated North Broad and Frankford Ave. to form a healthier congregation we can afford, led by Jonny. We’re flexible.
We’re flexible enough to let Joshua change and grow and remain our loved one in covenant for as long as the Lord desires. Joshua is brave to decide to do this, since no one knows how such a shift might work for him. We’re brave to allow it, because we all have to change because he is changing. But we’re connected and we have the strength to work these things out.
At the bon voyage party there will probably be more stories and pictures. I hope he can take in all the good will. It is not easy to change. I plan to be around to do what I can for my good friend, my long-term partner in alternativity, and one of God’s favorite Drexel students ever, no doubt. I think good things are about to begin. God bless you in them, brother.
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