I’ve been thinking a lot about imminence lately. It’s been strange to think that while we are in the season of Advent, celebrating the impending arrival of the Christ Child, I am preparing for my impending departure from this wonderful community. I have the pulpit both this coming Sunday and the next but those are times to reflect on the Scriptures, so I’d like to take this opportunity to express my personal feelings. First, I don’t have the words to tell you how deep my love is for all of you in our Emmanuel family. You have opened your arms and your hearts to me and my family and made us feel abundantly welcome. More than that, you have allowed me to serve you, teach you, pray with you and offer up the Eucharist on your behalf. You have granted me the grace to stretch and grow, to experiment with new ways of pursuing my own calling in Christ and you have honored me beyond anything I could have ever expected. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Bishops assign curates to congregations that are vibrant and healthy, that are alive in worship and actively sharing the love of God with their neighbors, in the hopes that those fledgling priests will be ‘infected’ with the robust life of that parish and, if you will, be contagious with it wherever they are called next. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to ‘catch’ the kind of sound governance, wisdom and warmth that makes for a strong and spiritually vital church. Whatever good I am able to do in St. Andrew’s Stillwater, it will in large measure be due to what I have gained from my time here with all of you. We have lived through some extraordinary times together, with challenges unprecedented in most of our lifetimes. I have been amazed and humbled at the ways that you have pulled together as a community during this time. I know how things are in other churches, so believe me when I tell you how proud I am of how you have faced the confusion, fear and uncertainty of this past year with grace, prayer, and care for one another. You have supported and encouraged those of us who serve in ministry and made it possible for us to find new ways to keep us all connected. I applaud you, and I encourage you to never stop pressing into the work of God’s kingdom. You are making a difference, both in each other’s lives and in this community. Well, I could go on endlessly. You are easy to brag about and hard to leave. I have many people to thank and I look forward to sharing more personal goodbyes with many of you in these final days, but for now I’ll just say that you will always have a very special place in my heart. May God bless you and keep you, each and every one, and may God watch over Emmanuel Episcopal Church.
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