There is no mention of retirement in the Bible
After 40 years of ordained ministry, serving five congregations in Iowa, California and Kansas, I was granted my retirement at the end of July. The rewards of working with these faithful people were many and each church taught me a great deal about strength, resiliency, hospitality, grace, forgiveness, passion, hope and love. With each congregation I was blessed with good and generous leaders who were seeking to live out the commitment to follow Christ as Lord and savior.
One of the things I will most cherish from my time in Leavenworth was the growing sense of community among the churches. The Leavenworth Interfaith Community of Hope, Welcome Central, the shelter, the Leavenworth County Clergy Associates, United As One and Concerned Clergy of Leavenworth County are all examples of the shared ministry that is alive and strong in the area. It is drawing more and more of us together to witness to the calling and work of Christ. The food pantries are also led by people of faith working hard to see that all in the county are fed.
Of course, there is much work that is ahead and I trust, with these ministries in place and under good leadership, will continue to seek to serve faithfully.
One of the things I found strange as my retirement drew near was how often I was congratulated for ceasing to work, especially when I knew there was still much to be done. On the other hand, I also had many people reminding me that there is no mention of retirement in the Bible.
It was then that I thought about the Hebrew word “hineni” which means “Here I am.” It is more than “being here,” it is to be fully present. It is a word used by Jacob, Moses, Samuel and Isaiah when they are called by God. Moses was well past retirement age when his call came. So, I understand that even though I am leaving the employment of the church, I remain fully under the call of God. So, I will continue, along with all the faithful, to seek to love my neighbors just as I love myself. I will continue to feed the hungry, care for the hurting, challenge those who make decisions to do so with the needs of the least of our society fully in mind. I will try to preach the gospel in all that I do and at times, when it is necessary, I will use words as well as actions.
I am grateful for my time with the Leavenworth community and pray that you will continue in your faith and service to our loving Lord.
Be fully present and encourage one another in all that you do. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.
Tim Soule is the retired pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Leavenworth.