JUNE 16, 2020
With gratitude I write to bid you farewell. This is my last Herald article and weekly reflection. It’s been difficult to find the words to express to you how I feel. I feel
sadness over the fact that I am leaving you. I feel a deep sense of loss because I will
not be able to continue to intimately share in your lives. I am filled with grief over the loss of being in ministry with you and sharing in the gospel with you. I will miss you!
I feel gratitude for you and for your partnership in ministry. I feel honored to have been a part of your lives: to celebrate weddings and baptisms and confirmations and the reception of new members. I feel humbled to have been by your side as you grieved the loss of loved ones, recovered from surgeries and illness. I feel blessed to have witnessed your faith as you struggled through loss of employment, endured financial hardships, emotional stresses, and so much more. I feel joy to have watched you nurtured and blossom in faith through worship, fellowship, bible studies, missions, and all the work we did together.
I feel encouraged by the hope and faith that you have which has sustained you over the year and which, I know, will sustain you in the years to come.
I am filled with hope for you and for your ongoing ministry. I am hopeful that the seeds of faith planted in you will continue to grow and bear more fruit such as mentioned by Paul: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. I am hopeful that the same hospitality and welcome you showed me will lead you to draw the circle wide, welcoming others and offering them sanctuary as you seek to build a community rooted in faith and established in love. I am hopeful that your light will shine bright upon this greater community, drawing people to your light, and letting your good works lead others to give glory to God.
Above all, I am confident of this: “that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” God called you and knit you together into one community. The tapestry that God is making is not complete but what already is, is beautiful.
I am confident that God will grant you grace, so you can be a means of grace, and help to proclaim the mighty acts of salvation through your loving witness. All this because God is gracious to invite you to be a part of what God is doing in the world and for the world.
And so I encourage you to let God remain the center. I encourage you to boldly go where Jesus is inviting you to follow. I encourage you to remain open to the movement of the Spirit. I encourage you to remain prayerful and discerning in all things. I encourage you to remain rooted in faith and established in love. I encourage you to seek the unity of peace and the righteousness of God’s kin-dom. I encourage you to trust in the power and presence of God who is with you.
For this reason, I lift up this prayer from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy
in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel
from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began
a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me
in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me… For God is my witness,
how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer,
that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight
to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure
and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through
Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:3-11)
I love you, and I will miss you! And may God bless you and keep you now and always.
With loving gratitude, Pastor Shandi