On behalf of Patty, Andrea, Lauren, and David, I want to say thank you once again for the hundreds of messages and thousands of gracious words that were presented or sent our way in recognition of our 20-year-long partnership in the ministry of Christ.
As I’ve already stated at worship, when I think of the journey on which we’ve been since the beginning of 1997, the days were sometimes long, but the years have been remarkably short. Still, your remembrances helped me to recall so many moments when we danced at your weddings, mourned in faith at the funerals of your loved ones, and rejoiced at baptisms, confirmations, and a host of other milestones in life. There have been joyful welcomes, fond farewells, risk taking moments, and travels to places near and far. We’ve laughed and cried together and have had some very important conversations along the way. We have been far from perfect, but by grace we journeyed to a new place of ministry and to many “new places” as we extended God’s mission together. Through it all, I’ve had the honor of proclaiming the Good News to you and experienced this pastor’s greatest joy in telling you that in Christ your sins are forgiven and you can begin again. And through it all, the degree to which I have been a pastoral witness to the work of Christ in your worship, welcome, service to God, care for the whole human family, and generosity of spirit, time, and treasure, has kept my soul filled with confidence in the transforming power of our Lord.
I also want to thank you for the love you have freely shown to our family throughout the years. Whether it was during Patty’s illness and recovery or in the ways you helped to raise our children in the faith, St. Andrew has been a fountain of grace for the five of us. And speaking of our family, allow me to publicly thank them for the countless ways in which Patty and the kids have supported and encouraged my ministry and ours together. Through them, I have been deeply loved and very richly blessed.
In the aftermath of your surprise recognition in January, I went on one of those websites and found that in 1997, gasoline cost $1.22 a gallon. The Lion King debuted on Broadway. Titanic opened in theaters, and the very first Harry Potter book was published. I was 37. Our girls were little and Patty was pregnant with David. Pastor Miller was 11 at the time and Phil Droege was the same age as he is today. While much – if not everything – has changed since then, Jesus’ love has been constant and your reflections of that love have been far too many to count.
Thank you all from the bottom of my pastoral heart for marking this milestone, not so much in my ministry as in ours together for the glory of God and the hope of the world!
Much love, in Christ,