My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

On Sunday Terry Neeley, chair of Staff Parish Relations Committee, announced that Pastor Woody will become the new senior pastor of Manatee United Methodist Church and Rev. Brett DeHart will become the new senior pastor of First United Methodist Church, Sarasota, on July 1. People left the sanctuary and chapel, expressing their sorrow at Pastor Woody’s and my leaving. People were also excited about Rev. DeHart’s coming to lead FUMC. They were happy for Pastor Woody that he will lead his own church and for me that I get to retire, but they will miss us both.

I have those same mixed emotions. I am sad to leave. I will miss everyone. However, I am excited and joyful about Rev. DeHart coming to FUMC. Although it may feel uncomfortable and strange, we can simultaneously feel sadness and joy.

James encouraged Christians experiencing sorrow, fear, and pain to move toward joy. He prompted them to reframe their losses as producing endurance in them—to be joyful by looking at the long term.

 I would encourage us all to move toward joy and to focus on the positive prospect of having someone with Rev. DeHart’s gifts, experiences, and accomplishments coming to lead this congregation. May God move us from sorrow to joy over what God is doing among us.

Dr. Sam