Do you remember the song?


Just hearing the word awakens in me the musical memory of the 1971 movie version of the Broadway hit, “Fiddler on the Roof,” where Jewish dairyman and father of five eligible daughters, Tevye, belts out his one word answer to the question, “How do you hang on to your balance in a shaky world?” Tevye backs up his answer with the observation, “Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof!”

I’ve been thinking (and singing) that theme song word a lot these days, but making my own edit to reflect where I am in my journey. The word I’m singing and substituting for “Tradition!” is “Transition----!!” and I’m singing it to myself like Tevye did in the movie.

We’re wired to want stability and anchors in our lives because, as Tevye puts it, traditions help us know who we are and what God expects us to do. For him and his family that included things like how to sleep, how to eat, how to work, what to wear, who to marry, and how to worship.

I have enjoyed the incredible blessing of being part of this church family as a member of the pastoral team for the past 22 years, and I have been blessed by Jesus with the privilege of loving, learning, growing, serving and processing life and life-giving “traditions” together with you all. But, as I announced on Sunday, September 22, my heart has been stirred by God to release my responsibilities and retire from my present capacity as Pastor of Counseling and Discipleship by the end of August next year.

What happens next?

We have recently started the process of looking for another pastor whom, God-willing, we will hire to replace me and call Pastor of Counseling and Care. Our target start date for him is currently July 1, 2020. During the next ten months of transition, I am looking forward to seeing how the Lord directs in our search process. Thank you so much for yours prayers for this!

The most frequently asked question I get is “What do you plan to do after you retire?”

My simple answer is, “Keep following Jesus!”

I honestly don’t know any specifics. We don’t intend to move, though I understand the wisdom of a few months of overlap with the new pastor (July and August), and then a period of giving him space to connect and build his ministry.

When I was praying about what to focus on next, five words came to mind that form the acronym “WAGES.” Whatever else the Lord has for me, I’m sensing a deep desire to spend some extended time with my WIFE, our AGING PARENTS (we are the sole care-givers for Bobbie’s father, Al Platt, 92; my mother, Millie Friesen, is 94), GRANDKIDS (we have six, and half of them live far away), EXTENDED FAMILY, and SIBLINGS.

In the meantime, I am very excited to see how the Lord is working among us as a church family with so many ministry opportunities locally, domestically, and globally.

Our Amigo 21 Adult and Family Mexico Mission Trip (Feb 29-Mar 7, 2020) team is forming as we speak (with a registration deadline of October 27), and I’m looking forward to leading this trip to serve at Children’s Haven International’s children’s home in Reynosa. This adventure has been such a strong “Tradition!” at Grace, but it will be my last trip to lead. “Transition!”

I am so thankful that as Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Always there in the transitions of our lives, calling our names and shepherding us closer to his heart.

I’m resting in the comfort that the Good Shepherd knows where to lead his sheep, and I’m content that he knows what’s ahead for us and for me.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday when we get to celebrate communion together and continue our study on the “Gifts of Grace.”

Pastor Steve