May 7, 2008

From This Little Room

In this little room I put my pen to the paper,
To write what’s in my heart down on a page;
With every line, a silent prayer is being lifted
That the song will somehow find its way
From this little room, to your heart.

Steven Curtis Chapman

Over 750 letters in nine years. 434 Sunday sermons. 108 newsletter articles. 45 e-mail meditations. (You’re reading #46.) Numerous liturgies, lessons, and prayers. Untold e-mails, both sacred and mundane. Each and every one: a new collection of words and phrases, a fresh gathering of print and script, an attempt at blessing God’s people through lines of language.

And every bit of it, from this little room.

I am going to miss these four little walls nestled in the front corner of your fine church building—a sacred little space otherwise dubbed “the pastor’s study.” For nine important years in my life it has been my little nook, my crucible for concocting language, a cauldron of prayer, pondering, and prognosticating. Many a word has flung forth from this place in many a mode, hopefully for better and not for worse. I have been most grateful to occupy this little room for as long as I have; I am honored now to turn it over to its next occupant—one who will inhabit it soon enough, in God’s good time.

Of all the blessed muscles a pastor is called upon to flex, I think I may be most grateful for the opportunity to write to you over these years from within these four walls. The mediums have been myriad, but the task has always been the same: to write, to you, God’s people, about the various and sundry elements of walking together along this Jesus-way. It has been my great privilege to take a weekly shot at gathering enough words—and proper ones, at that—to point to and pronounce that Eternal Word that calls to us all.

What I know for certain is that I love to write, to shape living and holy words on your behalf. I cannot speak to the quality of my words. Nor can I judge the faithfulness of my writing. Both are a matter for God to take up in the end. But I do know that I love to do it, that I need to do it, that—more than any other ordained labor—it is the best way I “work out my own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) … and your salvation, too. To wonder, to inquire, to rebuke, to comfort; to dream and to hope, to vent and to pray; to wrestle with angels and demons … with only a keyboard, an open Bible, and my knowledge of your lives and mine nestled deep in my bones.

So, here at the end of our time together, I can only offer you my profound thanks: for receiving my meandering meditations in your already crowded inbox; for welcoming my Sunday morning proclamations into your already busy ears; for opening my letters and deciphering my notes and putting up with my poor speling … er, spelling.

Where there has been error or injury, please forgive me. Where there has been illumination and blessing, give thanks to God. All I can own is my earnest need to tap away on these qwerty keys before me, to write to you about this strange and wonderful gospel that has gripped our lives, to work out—letter by letter—my own feeble attempt at being a steward of God’s many astonishing mysteries (1 Corinthians 4:1).

And all of this, from this little room, to your heart.

I shall miss this space very much. And this is just another way of saying I will miss you very much. Thank you for listening and reading and receiving my words for some 466 blessed weeks.

That’s about 465 more than I deserve.