Though several weeks have passed since the afternoon of Sunday, May 15, I cannot help but thank you again for the blessed memory you made for our family by remembering the 25 years that have passed since we first became your partners in the ministry of Christ. Not only was the celebration filled with wonderful fellowship, food, music, and images of our life together; the good humor, gracious words, tireless planning, and hard work that went into the festivities were all signs of your love and the great blessing of our years among you.
As I trace the stream of those blessings, I realize again that this is the congregation in which our children grew up. After all, when we arrived at St. Andrew in January of 1997, Patty was pregnant with our now 25-year-old son, David. This is the church family that rejoiced with us in our family milestones, cared for us in times of illness, and comforted us in sorrow. I simply can’t imagine a better place for us to spend such important years in our family’s life.
I also realize what an honor it’s been for me to be a pastoral witness to the work of Christ among you and watch your risk-taking, mission-driven, Gospel-motivated steps forward for the glory of God and for the sake of reaching more people with the Good News that changes our hearts forever. I think of things like your partnerships in Hispanic, Asian, and Amharic-speaking outreach, contemporary praise, and refugee resettlement. I recall our gatherings for worship, which included glorious offerings to God at Christmas, Easter, and throughout the year, along with very different but equally faithful services of worship in the aftermath of 9-11, Sandy Hook, and the invasion of Ukraine.
In recent years, your ministry changed but did not stop in the midst of a global pandemic. In years gone by, I watched you literally “bet the house” on God’s mission when you relocated to a larger site, built a new church home, and prayed that it would facilitate a growing church family. And by God’s grace it did! There was the completion of our new, though unfinished facilities, the addition of a fourth weekly service, and the expansion of our parking … three times! There were not only new members but new staff members. In fact, none of our current staff was serving at St. Andrew when Patty, Andrea, Lauren, and our unborn son first arrived. And on it went. As many have said when they look back in time, “the days were long, but the years were short.” And how blessed we’ve been!
Every bit as precious as our steps forward together are the blessed moments we’ve shared in good times and hard times. I’m thinking about dancing at your weddings, mourning at the funerals of our loved ones, meeting children of all ages at the waters of their baptism, along with confirmations, first communions, receptions of new members, conversations in my office, and the privilege of placing the body of Christ into your hands, proclaiming His truth, and telling you that your sins are forgiven. After all these years I still can’t take any of it for granted. Though a bit more seasoned than the 37-year-old some of you met on that January day in 1997, I remain excited and energized by the mission we share and so very thankful to God for placing me in the ministry with such a healthy, vibrant, loving community of believers. Now I get to experience the joys that only a long run in the same congregation will afford, like baptizing the children of children I confirmed and, in some cases, baptized, having also performed their weddings. It has been and remains a great honor and easy joy to serve among you!
I could go on and on. But enough for now, except to say again, thank you, St. Andrew! May God bless you for your faithfulness, your love, your generosity, and your support for our family and for the family God made us in Christ. And may God bless our continued ministry together in all the days that are yet to be!
The Lord be with you+
Love in Christ,