e-letter 6/15/18

This E-Letter has been the hardest one to write. Why? Well, it’s my last one! My one final note of encouragement. My one final note of challenge.  My one final note of thanks.

As you may already know, Molly and I will be relocating to Owensboro, KY this upcoming week. Our final Sunday at SUMC is this Sunday, June 17- I’ll be preaching my last sermon in The Gathering and Molly will be leading worship one final time. (I heard there is a little farewell reception from 10:30-11:30am in the Dining Room- I’d love to give you one final hug and give you some time to “roast” me.) We will be making the long journey up to Owensboro on Tuesday morning, June 19. (An approx. 14 hour drive, not that anyone is counting!)

Have you moved before?

I’m sure you have.

Do you remember the last time you moved?

How did you feel?

What ran through your mind?

There are a whole plethora of emotions running through me as I write this letter to you.

Anxiety.

Worry.

Stress.

Grief.

Excitement.

In any sort of transition, there is a great deal of grief. There’s a mourning that happens when you leave good people you have come to love. There’s grieving in leaving programs and ministries you helped start and/or participate in. There’s sadness in packing up the books and journals I have written in a long the way.

One of the things I was recommended by Molly’s dad to do was keep a journal of names/dates/locations of all the baptisms, weddings, and funerals I have officiated. With the help of Jill Kibler, our excellent Director of Congregational Care, I have maintained that list pretty well. When I was packing up my office into little boxes this week, I reopened that journal. I prayed through each name. I spent quite a while reflecting on the beautiful moments of baptism- whether in the Sanctuary, Worship Center, or at the beach. I reflected upon each wedding I have officiated- whether on the beach, in a chapel,  or on a farm. I reflected upon each funeral I had the honor of officiating, whether in the Sanctuary, at the Cross Tower, or at a funeral home. Each moment, person, experience, will live on through the grace of God.

I have come to learn in my short time of ministry, that in grieving- there is always something about to give birth to something new. In death, there is always resurrection. In sadness, there is always a glimpse of hope and joy. Molly and I are so excited about serving the good people of Settle Memorial United Methodist Church. We are excited to meet new people, start new ministries, and serve the community of Owensboro together. We are excited to move into a whole new set of unknowns.

I am also excited for the future of Suntree United Methodist Church. You are in good hands with your great pastors, excellent staff, and faithful church leaders – and you will love Pastor Allee as she transitions into this wonderful community. God has worked powerfully in the last 35 years, and I truly believe God will work powerfully in the next 35 years to come.

The transition from sadness to joy happens often in our lives. I wonder if there is power in holding these two in tension with each other for just a moment. Sad that something is coming to an end, but joy that new things abound. I wonder that if it is in that process of reflection, that we also find more joy in the past than we did before – to push us forward into the future.

In all of this, I am just grateful. I am grateful that God sent me to Suntree UMC in July of 2015. I am grateful that this was the community that I was sent to straight out of seminary. I am grateful that this was the community that helped Molly and I in our first two years of marriage. I am grateful that this was the community that helped me experience the presence of Jesus.

I am grateful for this was the community that helped me learn to Love God, Love Each Other, and Love Our Neighbors in Extraordinary Ways. I have come a long way from my first time preaching from your pulpit 3 years ago to where I am today. I accredit that to your grace, love, forgiveness, and hope in me. Thank you.

So SUMC, I am terrible at goodbyes, so this is “see ya later.” Molly and I will be praying for you daily, and I hope that you will pray for us as well. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of God’s hand.

Cheers!

Rob