St Mark’s


Santa Barbara pool along beach

I was sitting in the sanctuary at St Mark UMC, and was surprised at how clearly I remembered what it had looked like.

It had been about 30 years since I had been in that sanctuary, and now I was back as the preacher for a weekend retreat. I have pictured the sanctuary exactly as it looks today, for years. Every time I have told the story of my call into ministry and hearing the sermon preached by Jimmy Gibson, March 31st, 1983, I have pictured him from the choir loft. It was the Maundy Thursday service, and so the sanctuary was dimmed. But there he was preaching, on his tiptoes describing heaven, speaking of Jesus, the “Wonderful Savior” and in that message, “The Importance of Last Things.”

I have “seen” this over the years again and again.

When I was sitting there again, waiting to preach for the first time, the images of these early days of call came flooding back to me. I had been meeting old friends renewed as well, and when I met Judy Shortl again, after all these years, I remembered being Co-Sunday School Superintendents together. It astounded me how much people still looked the same. Beautiful people. Friends. People, who had prayed for us, loved us, invited us into community and into Christ. People, who had supported us, sent us money at seminary that first year. People, who had voted yes for me to enter ministry.

Tirzah Riley reminded me of our conversation at the Iwo Jima monument while on the Historic Study Tour in 1983. How there I had turned to her and said, there was something wrong, that there was a sense I had that I was not doing what God had called me to do. That I needed to change what I was doing in life somehow. She said she had turned to me and said, “Brian, you are hearing the voice of God’s holy Spirit and you need to follow whatever He says.”

As I sat there, singing songs, remembering event after event that had happened at St Mark, which was significant in my calling and faith, I asked the Lord, “What are you doing?”

Here’s what God said in reply:

“Child, You can see how I brought you back to St Mark. I brought you here for a new start, the beginning of what I’ve called you to do and become. I have you right where I want you, but you needed to see, experience and know I have more for you yet. Child, I love you and I delight in you. I have a great plan for you. Draw closer Child. Align with my life. How I have plans for you to pour out your love into others. STAND. REST. BE.”

I was staggered.

Here I had planned to say how essential the St Mark congregation had been in my formation and direction and calling, but God was underlining that all the more. They had been used by God to make it possible for me to become the man God had intended for me to be all along.

I was filled with praise.


About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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1 Response to St Mark’s

  1. Pingback: My Strong Accent  – caminowalk2016

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