We often think of someone’s soul as an internal, eternal piece of who they are. Plenty of words have been used over the centuries to describe this elusive element of the human persona by theologians, philosophers and experts in psychology. Some of the best teaching I have read on the soul comes from Dallas Willard, who held a degree in psychology, was ordained as a preacher, and taught philosophy at the University of Southern California. Central to his teaching was that our souls, though technically internal and eternal, go beyond ourselves to embrace those relationships we care about most deeply.
Therefore, to introduce myself to you, to share something of my soul with you in the days and months and years to come, will mean sharing with you the relationships that mean the most to me. My soul is shaped by my wife, Kim, who has been walking with me through life since I was 16 years old. Our children make a huge impact on my soul: the four we have raised together and the one we have gained through marriage. Our daughter, Emily, and her spouse, Jake, will be moving from the Boston area to Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania this summer. Our sons, Benjamin and Jacob, have each shaped my soul, as they continually challenge me to wrestle with issues related to autism and other special needs related to Smith-Lemli-Optiz Syndrome. Our youngest son, Jeremy, just completed his second year of high school in Howard County and got his provisional license. He and I enjoy hiking and other family traditions like musical theatre. More soul impact.
My soul continues to hold room for my five older siblings and their families, spread around the country, for Kim’s sister and her family in Ithaca. There are special places in the landscape of my soul for my father, who was a pilot and a farmer, and my mother, who impacted my life in faith more than anyone other than my wife. Both of my parents passed away in 2019 after long and fruitful lives and 70 years of married life together. My soul remembers the people I have served in 22 years of pastoral ministry, as well as the candidates and colleagues I have served in the past five years while on the staff of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference.
The constant through all of these years has been the impact of the Holy Spirit on my soul. Jesus has been a friend to me when I walked through grief and in the midst of great joy. I have found God surprising me in the wonders of creation and in the everyday moments of life. I look forward to seeing what God will share with us, how Jesus will teach us as we go through life together. I am so grateful to be your Pastor in this season. I am thankful for the ways the Holy Spirit is already working in your lives and confident that many souls will be richly blessed because we are bound together in this ancient and active faith.
Pastor John Nupp may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org