I will write my last blog tonight as the pastor of a congregation. I am retiring after forty-five years of serving in this capacity, It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to serve God and to pursue His clear calling upon my life.
On Sunday morning I will address my church family for the last time as their pastor. I feel a myriad of emotions contemplating the task but it will be able to re-echo Paul's sentiments towards the Philippians, "I thank God every time I remember you..."
Such memories include holding a new-born baby, engaging in premarital counseling with couples about to be married, weeping with parents over a drug-addicted teenager, presiding at the funeral of a saint, walking with a family through relational crisis, listening to the testimony of one transformed by God's grace, leading a group of volunteers on a missionary trip, teaching eager children at a week of VBS, stapling insulation on the walls of a new church building, staying up late to work with the elders through a church budget crisis, shooting baskets with the teens until the doctor said "Your knees are too old for that...", "rv-ing at church family camp, sitting with a wife through her husband's life-threatening surgery--these and many more experiences have dotted the landscape of pastoral ministry. And I will never forget.
It is anew beginning for our church family --a new pastor, a fresh vision, an anticipation of continuing and growing the work we've all committed to.
And it's a new beginning for me. Counseling, trips to Haiti, work with Hospice, some teaching--all of it springs from a pastor's heart. Same heart...new places...a new beginning.