Epiphany Greetings in the name of our Christ!
In the past week, many people have approached me with a concerned look in their eyes and expression on their face. Then, after a short pause, the question has come: “Oh, Pastor Melinda … how are you doing with the news of Pastor Mark’s retirement?”
My answer has been and remains: “I’m fine! Really, I’m fine.” And, I am deeply grateful to my colleague whom I’ve grown to know and appreciate over these past 4 ½ years. The Rev. Mark Ulrickson has helped me articulate, own and begin to live into the gifts and graces for ordained ministry that God has given to me. It was Mark who first referred to me as a co-pastor. It was Mark who helped me see that I am not a clergywoman or an Associate Pastor or the “Children and Youth” person, or a just a loud mouthed, impatient rabble-rouser Gen X pastor. It was Mark who has helped nurture my gifts and graces into becoming an appointed minister that is co-leading the Los Altos UMC. His gift for care and guidance of me and you has been a gift that I will forever cherish. I have learned in countless ways from his tenacity, openness, warm spirit and his deep love of the church.
Will I miss him? Absolutely!
Will I be sad over the season ahead as I see and think through … final moments of ministry together? Yes!
Will his announcement slow down our work together? No.
: ) No, we have plenty of work ahead of us.
But, I will share with you one recent Sunday morning in worship. A few weeks ago, while Mark was discerning how to share his upcoming retirement with the church, I prayed for him by name. I lifted his name and his ministry with me and with us. I was struggling to hear some clarity or wisdom or just “CALM DOWN, MELINDA” from God.
You know what? What God didn’t give me was any of what I was seeking. Rats. What God said to me in prayer was nothing about me … it was the following:
“Melinda, how are you accompanying this brother in Christ in this next season of ministry with you and the church? How are you celebrating 41!!!!! years of ministry with God’s church? How are you walking with the Rev. Mark Ulrickson as he enters his next season with God and with Jesus?”
So, yes, I’m fine -- more than that, even! I’m excited to celebrate the ministry of my brother in Christ and continue the journey with the Rev. Mark Ulrickson, and with the church of Los Altos United Methodist.
Your sister in Christ,