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Leonard Cohen wrote and sings a long, complex song called “It’s Closin’ Time.” It’s full of varied images and scenes that evoke life’s excitement, unpredictability, the rare possibility of controlling much, but dealing with it without anxiety.

Sort of like The Network, I think.

For nearly a year and a half I have been honoured to be guide for the Pastors’ Network. The writing, brainstorming, face-to-face meetings and on-line conversations have all been challenging, enjoyable and, I pray, real and honest. I have tried to contribute things that by no means encompass pastors’ lives and work, yet always touch on significant parts of our vocatio and how we live it. I’m delighted that not only pastors, but many laypersons have read and contributed.

“Guiding” may be too strong term for what I and others have done. “Suggesting” is probably more like it, because any number of blogs and articles I’ve submitted have been commented on in ways I never would have imagined. I have not been able to control the Pastors’ Network, nor did I want to. To post, read responses, comment further on them and see where readers take it has been unpredictable, surprising, for the most part enjoyable and often exciting. Occasionally I have been more than a little surprised at the hints of personalism and peevishness that have found their way into strings of comments, most notably on the long, long thread that the blog on The Belhar Confession provoked. 

Yet that’s the nature of human conversation. We have to be responsible for what we write, which does not mean toning things down all the time, but surely being ready to face others’ responses. It sounds like life. It sounds, in fact, like both official and unofficial conversations at Synod. I have an idea that our thread on The Belhar sounds much like what might happen at Synod next year. Then it will be the task of the Chair to guide that group of pastors and elders to a decision that, I pray, pleases the Lord. Perhaps The Network is helping all of us to read and speak thoughtfully, honestly, candidly and responsibly, holding each other to account.

But for now, "it’s closin’ time." I’m on sabbatical until mid-August, with a long-planned interruption for Synod. There, among other things, the study committee I’ve chaired for almost three years on the Form of Subscription Revision will make its final report. Pray for that and all of Synod. 

I wish to thank all Network readers, commenters and especially staff for pushing and prodding sometimes wannabe Luddite me to engage in this form of sane social networking. Because of you I’ve learned things about blogs, links and posting I didn’t always want to learn. Yet that has tied me closer to lots of folks I haven’t met face to face, but would really like to. I look forward to taking my place on the other side of this fence as a participant, but not guide.

Meanwhile, with freedom and joy, trust and hope, let the final words of Psalm 19 be more than just a suggestion, but truly a guide for all of us.

Blessings and shalom.


Jim, I loved this farewell blog.  Cohen's "Closing Time" has been a favorite of mine too.  Thank you so much for the gift of your time and insights in this place over the last 16 months.   

Jim, you reference a favorite songwriter/poet of mine too, and yes, Closing Time has many "varied images and scenes' indeed.  :) 

Though I never commented on your blogs, appreciated them and will miss them.   The words from your pen became meditations for my heart, and were pleasing, I trust, in God's sight.  

Have a great sabbatical, Jim


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