(Guest post by Tami Painter)
A number of you have connected with me to emphasize your appreciation for all that Scott has done for Grace. You will not get an argument from me that Scott Painter is an amazing human being! His creativity, energy and dedication makes life bigger somehow. Scott’s ability to cast a vision and lead through the 100 steps to get there is impressive. He brings a lot of love and heart to all he undertakes.
AND, there is a much broader story of Grace that God has been weaving for 60+ years. It’s a story of God’s endless provision and a community that continues to expand the definition of love and grace. This is what first drew me to Grace. In the interview dinner Scott and I had with the Bishop’s Committee, I heard story after story about times of great uncertainty and doubt when God showed up in the form of clergy, people with giftings perfect for the moment, and checks for exact amounts to meet the need. Every time the question was asked “Will Grace go on?” God said “Yes!”
I have seen this first hand over the past 5 years. There have been truly amazing moments of provisions – ministers, musicians, new members, grants, gifts of service, gifts of craftmanship . . . So many people have stepped up to honor and endorse this uniquely diverse and loving place called Grace.
Yet, change is hard. As part of this process, we will be separating from those we love including our young adult son who will be staying in Houston. I’m feeling sadness for this and will greatly miss our regular connections while also holding confidence all are ready and capable to stand strong. As Scott and I have done the work of pulling back and letting go, I have looked to God many times and asked “You got this?” The answer is as it has always been – an emphatic and resounding “Yes!”
May the Holy Spirit continue to move powerfully among you as the story of Grace goes on.
These past few weeks have been filled with much personal reflection on my five years serving the good people of Grace in Houston. I have also pondered considerably on my calling into this wild and unpredictable life as a priest in Christ’s Church. Now entering my final week of ministry at Grace, I want to share some thoughts on the remarkable road to renewal and growth we have traveled together.
Since the first time I was ever asked the “why” about God calling me to the particular vocation of priest (almost 14 years ago now), I have been able to sum it up in one word: reconciliation.
The letter of First Corinthians contains words that have guided me for much of my life and ministry: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…” (First Corinthians 5:17-18, NRSV).
I love that this beautiful thing God has done--resurrection, new life, new creation--is the grounding of the ministry God has called all Christians to engage. Since God has made all things new and has overcome the sin that isolates and divides us, the work now belongs to us: bringing people to God and together.
This ministry of reconciliation, given to all Christians, has been the foundation of everything Grace has become in the past few years.
Together, we have embraced and enacted this ministry of reconciliation that God began in new creation and calls us to continue in our own renewed life. As a result, people across many spectra of diversity – politics and race and generation and sexual orientation and gender identity and physical abilities and religion – know Grace as a safe place, a loving people, and a spiritual home.
Thank you, friends, for accepting this ministry of reconciliation with me. Thank you for living out the witness of new creation in Jesus Christ. Thank you for becoming the loving, embracing, inclusive, and faithful people you are.
With gratitude and affection,