That’s right. We bought a house. We are as surprised as you are, but only because it seemed so far from possible. In another sense, though, we are not surprised at all. It has been the desire of ours to own property wherever we are pastoring. It has been our prayer that God would provide us with a place to live that helps us participate in the community and help to cultivate and plant and encourage the growth of the spiritual life that has already existed in this place for several generations.
Bergen is now our home, officially. Owning property is a way to make a statement that we are making a home of this place. And it reminds me of a very important aspect of pastoral ministry, as articulated by Eugene Peterson:
I enjoy reading the poet-farmer Wendell Berry. He takes a small piece of land in Kentucky, respects it, cares for it, submits himself to it just as an artist submits himself to his materials. I read Berry, and every time he speaks of “farm” and “land,” I insert “parish.” As he talks about his farm, he talks about what I’ve tried to practice in my congregation, because one of the genius aspects of pastoral work is locality.
The pastor’s question is, “Who are these particular people, and how can I be with them in such a way that they can become what God is making them?” My job is simply to be there, teaching, preaching Scripture as well as I can, and being honest with them, not doing anything to interfere with what the Spirit is shaping in them. Could God be doing something that I never even thought of? Am I willing to be quiet for a day, a week, a year? Like Wendell Berry, am I willing to spend fifty years reclaiming this land? With these people? (The Contemplative Pastor, 1989, p. 11).
We praise God for his provision. He is the one who has given us this opportunity to make Bergen our home. We will be honoured if God would use our home to bless many others as we seek to participate in how the Spirit is shaping our community.