It is not usual that I warm to being acknowledged as anybody’s “2nd favorite something”. If my kids told me I was their 2nd favorite parent or my parents told me I was their 2nd favorite son, I do not think I would treat it as a gift. However, each time I get to see or spend some time with Pastor Eric Smith – and he greets me with “Well, it’s my 2nd favorite rabbi!” I welcome his greeting with warmth and treat it as high praise. (If you are still having a brain freeze, Pastor Smith’s #1 rabbi would be young man they call Jesus!)
Sadly, after June 4th I will not be hearing Pastor Smith’s unique greeting around the halls of our shared sacred space. Pastor Smith has been assigned by his Bishop to a new ministry at Arvada United Methodist Church. I understand the ways that the Methodist denomination works and assigns its spiritual leadership … I understand that Pastor Smith feels called to his new community … I understand that our friends at PHUMC are excited for the next chapter in the life of their community, and I am still sad about this change involving our partner, my colleague and friend.
Pastor Smith began his tenure at PHUMC while Temple Micah was in the midst of planning and preparing to move in to PHUMC. Even though he was not a part of the initial stages of decision making, Pastor Smith welcomed us with an open heart and open mind. He had faith in the personal, professional and communal possibilities and opportunities for such a relationship.
That unique relationship grew as our two communities, and as he and I, got to know each other. We began by celebrating our covenant in a manner that was rich and meaningful. After the shocking election result in the fall, I was able to lean on you to find words to share with my community when I could not find my own. We more deeply evolved our interfaith collaborative by connecting with Imam Ali at Masjid Taqwa. We shared and vision of making our shared sacred space a Sanctuary and began the process of making that vision a reality.
Pastor Smith’s presence has been an important part of my time in our new home. In him I have a trusted colleague in the building who knows and instinctively understands the wonderful peculiarities of being a rabbi or pastor or minister. He has been a source of support, perspective and laughter.
Another phrase that I have heard often from Pastor Smith over the past 4 years is – when asked, “How are you doing?”, he would reply – “It is good with my soul.” Well, my colleague and friend, I cannot not tell you where you rank on my favorite pastor list. I can gratefully tell you that it has been very good with my soul to have had the chance to share this space (both physical and spiritual) with you. Thank you, Dr. Eric Smith, for being a part of my and my community’s life for these past 4 years. Kol Tuv, may it continue to be good with your soul.