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Dear 12 Community,
If my memory is correct, we’ve been together about seven years. That’s a long a time together. That’s enough time to know the things we like about each other and the things that annoy us about each other. That’s enough time to figure out how to love each other. And love you this community I do.
Behind the scenes a lot has changed in my life during this time. In some ways The 12 can take a portion of the credit for helping me find my voice and using it wisely. I started writing for The 12 when I was a pastoral intern at West End Collegiate Church, then I became Associate Pastor, and now I serve as Interim Head of Staff. The personal landscape of my life has changed through the years and I can’t express how happy I am to be where I am at this point in my life. I know a lot has changed in your life through the years, too. New writers have come on The 12, family dynamics have changed in your life as a reader, and prayerfully you have had meaningful encounters with God that have brought you the peace of Christ and energized you for service. I’m glad we have shared life together here.
When I started writing here I think some might have thought I was contradictory for contradictories sake. But that would be incorrect. I am always looking ahead wondering how the church can broaden our reach, how can we make room for all, and in what ways do we need to challenge our cherished traditions. I see the long vision and the long vision doesn’t always fit with the current vision. Early on in my relationship with The 12 I wrote some provocative pieces that ruffled some feathers (ruffling feathers is a good thing if it is moving us toward more dignity). Since then I noticed my provocateur writing slowly became more pastoral. I have never lost the perspective of “Imagine if…” but I became a better pastor in my provocative questions which allowed me to write from a place of grace more. The more in tune I got with my short-comings the more my writings were seasoned with grace.
Grace has become the clearest thing to me in my life. If you look back to my earlier writings it was justice that was clear to me. Now don’t get me wrong, justice is certainly at the heart of the work I do, but the vehicle to justice has changed for me. Grace is the vehicle from which I move in life and grace is so powerful that it moves systems and people to doing justice. I am nervous that there is a stream in progressive Christianity that has confused grace for justice. The Gospel then becomes about us and how much justice we do. We are indeed to do justice, but the Gospel is not about putting more on our plate it is about relieving our burdens and the forgiveness of sins. Grace is so great that we are then moved to do justice in gratitude. I am also nervous about a conservative Christianity that has misplaced grace with purity. The proclamation in this stream of Christianity is about how good you can be and the right behavior and belief that will save you. This, too, couldn’t be farther from the Gospel. How fickle our human hearts are. Justice does not save us. Purity does not save us. It is the grace of God alone. None of us can boast. I have been both a conservative (I know, hard to believe if you only know me from my writing here) and a progressive. I have been tempted by both of these hues of Christianity. Through major life events that made me come face to face with my own culpability I can honestly say it is but for the grace of God I am here writing today. The grace of God is what saves us.
I write to you today in letterform to acknowledge the relationship we have formed together and express my gratitude before I sign off from my responsibilities here. There are new projects I am embarking on. I am on the beginning end of writing a book (pray for me, please), my leadership and preaching has increased at church (continue your prayers), and my speaking engagements have increased that I need to adjust my relationship with The 12 and say Goodbye (for now).
I would love to stay in relationship with you in new ways. I curate my facebook to be a place of hope, grace, courage, and good conversation. Find me on FB and friend me (if you haven’t chosen to shut down your account yet!). My website is www.revjeskast.com and if you are looking for a speaker for your conference please find me there and inquire. I love speaking at conferences. You will see more of my writing in preparation for my book here on my website. My favorite social media is my twitter. Join me there at @JesKast. I’m also on Instagram (which is my second favorite social media) @JesKastNYC. Let’s stay connected and cheer each other on in this life for we all need each other to survive.
Thank you for taking the time to read, comment, and write. I’m grateful for our time together. I wish each of you to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (and much joy and courage). I hope you never forget how much Jesus loves you and I hope you are quick to share that blessing, especially with people who think differently than you. Be well and until next time when we meet again.
With gratitude and joy,