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From the Pastor's Desk: A Final Farewell

August 8, 2020

 

August 6th was Pastor Rebecca's last day day serving the congregation of Saint Stephen. Here, she shares her final thoughts about her work, and her time with us.

"Dear People of St. Stephen,

It is hard to find words to say goodbye. When I arrived to do supply and then interim ministry with you in early 2016, so much had happened in such a short time for you. It did not take me long to come to know you as an extremely generous and faithfully resilient congregation.Together in those days we discerned what was important about being God's church, how to support one another, and asked ourselves who we were called to be. But more than anything, we reminded ourselves about God's love for His people and our love for one another.

 

One of the greatest gifts God gives us is the gift of community. also a pastor, often used with his family and in his ministry: "Remember God loves you, and so do I." At the end of the day, God IS love. And this love is not some wishy-washy sentimental feeling. God's love is Love with a capital 'L'. Yes, love as cherishing, but also love as justice, love as mercy, love as sacrifice. God loves us and God calls us to love His world. In my first newsletter writing, I reminded us that "Saint Stephen is fully under the banner of God's loving help and keeping now and always." This is a constant. God has loved you and this congregation from its very beginnings. And God is loving you even now, showing you a future with hope and filled with God's Spirit.

 

As we did so many years ago, continue now to explore together what is important about being God's church, how to love and Especially in these days of the coronavirus pandemic, we remember in new and not so new ways how vital community is. For the people of God, community is the place where we are gathered together as a people of faith, to worship and play, to hold one another accountable, to forgive each other, to accompany one another through the joys and challenges of life, and to figure out how to serve the world and wider community. Community is how we experience and share God's love.

 

In our worship services over zoom during the coronavirus pandemic, I have been closing with words my grandfather, who was also a pastor, often used with his family and in his ministry: "Remember God loves you, and so do I." At the end of the day, God IS love. And this love is not some wishy-washy sentimental feeling. God's love is Love with a capital 'L'. Yes, love as cherishing, but also love as justice, love as mercy, love as sacrifice. God loves us and God calls us to love His world. 

 

In my first newsletter writing, I reminded us that "Saint Stephen is fully under the banner of God's loving help and keeping now and always." This is a constant. God has loved you and this congregation from its very beginnings. And God is loving you even now, showing you a future with hope and filled with God's Spirit. As we did so many years ago, continue now to explore together what is important about being God's church, how to love and support one another, and ask yourselves who you are called to be.

 

It is now time for my "going out". And part of me wishes it were not so. But the thing about goings out is they herald "comings in". And I know God's Spirit will continue to lead and guide you in all faithfulness. God has wonderful things in store for this congregation.

 

So I won't say goodbye. Not really. Because we continue to be connected in the life and community of God's faithful church. So instead, I close with my favorite benediction in worship using words from Psalm 121: "God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth and forevermore."

 

No matter what "goings out" or "comings in" we continue to experience, we can trust that God will continue to "watch over our going out and our coming in, from this time forth and forevermore." Remember. God loves you. Period. Full stop. And I do too."

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