(Here is a reflection to the people of St. Michael’s, New Canaan, CT before I begin my new call as pastor of St. Paul, Old Saybrook, CT. My last Sunday in New Canaan is 9/28/2014. My first Sunday in Old Saybrook is 10/5.)
It is hard to express in a few words my gratitude for your partnership and ministry over our years together. (Quite literally) blood, sweat and tears have bonded us for a lifetime even though we now part ways as pastor and people. You’ve taught me many lessons, and I hope (even if in a small way) that you your life and faith have been nurtured by our time together as well. I am unsure what more I can say other than, “Thanks.” We have had some good times and fruitful ministry. I think these words from Ephesians sum it up well:
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free – signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life. That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the Christians, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you – every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask – ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory – to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians,oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him – endless energy, boundless strength! All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” (Ephesians 1:11-23 – The MESSAGE)
Remember who you are, and who you belong to – Jesus, our Master. Keep up the good work together in faith and the momentum of the Spirit will continue to push forward through you. Live the new life in Christ God has given you in gratitude, and everything else will fall into place. Of this I am certain, even when the words are hard to come up with on my own.
With love and in the spirit of peace that surpasses understanding, I thank God for you; now and always. – PGS