For a few short months, I am serving as a “bridge pastor,” meaning that I will be here at Faith United Church of Christ until they are able to find a full-time interim pastor to serve them. I am a longtime member of the church and have served many congregations as an intentional interim pastor, but I thought I had retired. An interim pastor helps a congregation to move through a process that enables it to call a new pastor. A bridge pastor serves a congregation between the time a pastor leaves and when an interim pastor arrives.
I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a “bridge,” that is, someone who helps lead the way to move from one place to another. A person who helps others find places where they may connect when it seems there is a impasse between them could be called a bridge. Bridges, as structures, most often enable us to cross bodies of water that might not otherwise be possible to cross. People who are bridges are able to find common places where two otherwise very different people may find ways to connect and be in relationship with one another.
Jesus was a “bridge” who came to show us the way to God. He gave us a way to move from a sense of being alone and on one’s own in this life, to being connected with God and with all of God’s people around the world. He showed us the redeeming love of God and invited us to become part of a large human family with many members, all connected to one another, sharing God’s promises to us in Jesus Christ.
We are all called to be bridge builders, finding ways to connect with one another, however, different we may be or whatever different places we may come from. We have seen the consequences of divisions that cause wide chasms between one another. If carried too far, our separation from each other when carried to extremes causes violence, prejudice, disregard for those who live on the edges of life and the inability to find ways to work together for the common good of all. When we are bridge builders, new possibilities emerge, healthy discussions occur, respect for one another’s ideas and opinions happen and conflicts can be resolved.
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Our nation is in great need for bridge builders after this very divisive and polarizing election year. All of our many faith understandings encourage us to reach out to one another; to listen to one another and find ways of connecting, sharing in a common purpose of loving, caring and working for the very best that we can be. Jesus tells us to “love one another, as I have loved you.” If we can all do that, we will be the bridge builders this world really needs right now.
The Rev. Ann Graves is a retired minister in the United Church of Christ, currently serving as a transitional minister at Faith United Church of Christ in State College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.