First United Church of Christ Family,

Henri Nouwen wrote that “waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about him for whom we are waiting.” I know there is spiritual truth to what Nouwen says. The Bible bears that out; when I tried to count the passages that talk about waiting, I lost count three times. Most of the references to waiting are about waiting for God in some way, whether it is God’s salvation, or God’s presence, or God’s intervention.

One of my favorite verses about waiting is Micah 7:7

But me! I will keep watch for the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.

If we don’t have faith that what we are waiting for will happen, it is easy to lose hope. I know Tom Petty was right when he sang, “You take it on faith, you take it to the heart. The waiting is the hardest part.”

I have never been great at waiting. Whenever I buy a gift for my wife, Jess, I struggle to wait until the occasion I intended to give it to her. A part of me was glad when our son was born six weeks early; he was perfectly healthy, and waiting for him to arrive was driving me absolutely bonkers.

During our “call week,” as I got to know many of you, when I was asked if I was nervous about the trial sermon I would dodge the question by saying “I just want to do it, I can’t stand waiting!” It would be easy to say I was denying my true feelings; that I was just exhausted from being nervous about my trial sermon, and your vote. I know the truth; my nervousness was very real, but I am always terrible at waiting.

Thank you for welcoming me, and my family, to your church family. Excited skims the surface of how I feel about being called to be your pastor. As I go through the sadness of ending my ministry at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Jonestown this month I will be buoyed by knowing that something special is on the horizon at First United Church of Christ, Hellertown. I hope Henri Nouwen is right; that the waiting will help me learn about God and grow in my faith. In the meantime, my mantra is “the waiting is the hardest part.”

Grace and peace,
Pastor Joel