Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Brothers and sisters, we should always thank God for you. That is only right, because your faith is growing more and more. The love you all have for each other is increasing.
(2 Thessalonians 1:3)
At the end of January, I leave St. John's to begin my new ministry as Priest-in-Charge, St. Peter's Episcopal Church and Day School, Bay Shore, New York.
I'm confident that St. John"s new rector will be as fine a priest as your very able and dedicated Search Committee can find. The new rector will be legally and morally bound and entitled to all the requisite responsibilities and authority to provide you with the dynamic leadership St. John's needs and deserves. From recent, positive, first-hand experience, I know your new rector will enjoy tremendous support from the vestry, the ministries and the whole congregation.
I treasure the thirteen months I have ministered to you. Jane, Robert and I have had a hectic and a marvelous year here. We value your hospitality and constant kindness. Your Christian witness, piety and faithfulness have been an inspiration. Your intelligence and high expectations have been stimulating and challenging. Your reflexive compassion and generosity have been truly humbling.
Thanks for all of this. But mostly thank you for the pure joy of serving at St. John's. Worshipping with you has been a joy. Education has been a joy. Outreach, marriages and baptisms have been a joy. Even attending the sick and the bereaved has had its own measure of bittersweet joy. It has been a privilege to share your life's crises and strengthen my faith from yours.
Jane, Robert and I hope you will plan to join us on Saturday, January 6 (from 6 pm to 9 pm) for the annual Epiphany Party at the Rectory.
Please RSVP to the parish office no later than Friday, January 5.
Our time together has marked me profoundly. I will carry you with me to St. Peter's and beyond! I leave you with the love of Christ and a commitment to my prayerful remembrance. What more then to wish in valedictory?
Of all the parting expressions, the Spanish "A Dios", ("To God") is the most concise and profound. Over the years the English parting expression "God be with you" has devolved to a simple "Goodbye." On this occasion I need both formulations to express my deeply heartfelt hopes for you: God be with you always, as you journey on your way home to Him.
Sincerely yours in Christ's love,