From a Pastor's Desk

A series of opinion articles from rostered ministers and lay leaders from our Synod.


Trading Places

Jul 03, 2019

By The Rev. Peter Rustico

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

"Trading Places" is the name of a 1983 movie starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. They play a homeless city guy and a wealthy stockbroker whoa are forced to "trade places" as they unknowingly become part of an elaborate scheme. The movie is actually a comedy, and since it involves Eddie Murphy, it's a great film.

"Trading Place" is also part of a "scheme" that I have "cooked up" with a pastor friend of mine for the last full weekend of August. The beneficiaries of this "scheme" are going to be all of you.

Let me explain.

Pastor Brenda Irving is the pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Cambria Heights, Queens (she tells me it is not far from Kennedy Airport). Pastor Brenda has been serving that primarily African-American congregation for over fourteen years. She has been to St. John's a few times for Synod events, and we have often joked to each other. "We ought to trade places one Sunday". After years of "talk" we have finally decided to make this happen. Here is the plan:

  • On Saturday, August 24th, I will be leading our 5:30 pm worship at St. John's, and Pr. Brenda Irving will be our guest preacher.
  • On Sunday, August 25th, Pr. Brenda Irving will be preaching and leading our 9:30 am worship service, including the Children's Sermon. 
  • On that same Sunday, August 25th, I will be leading the 10:30 am worship service at Prince of Peace in Cambria Heights in Queens.

The end result of all of this, is that Pastor Brenda and I will be "trading places" on Sunday, August 25th.

So why are we doing this?

So that this suburban and rural congregation can hear from a dynamic urban and African-American woman pastor who is part of our same Lutheran tradition, while at the same time her city congregations can hear from me. We are one church with many expressions and a great diversity of faces, practices, and even opinions. It is one of our greatest strengths that as the people of God we can be so "different" in so many ways, and yet worship One God, who we know in our One Lord, Jesus Christ. 

The other benefit is that Pastor Brenda is an amazing woman. She is a "second career" pastor, meaning that she had another career before becoming a Lutheran pastor 14 years ago. She formerly taught at one of the NY City colleges. She is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a dynamic preacher, and an inspiring pastor.

You will want to come to worship on either August 24 or 25 to meet and hear Pastor Brenda Irving. You will not be disappointed.

How blessed we are to be part of a larger church that has a wonderful diversity, yet is united in the One Lord who makes us One!

Pastors can "trade places" for one Sunday, but as part of the One Flock of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we would never trade places with anyone. Please come to church on August 24th or 25th.