Dear People of St. George's,
On the eve of his arrest in John's Gospel, Jesus prayed for his disciples. He said, in part, "I have revealed your name to those you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your word...I am praying on behalf of them...Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me...When I was with them I kept them safe and watched over them in your name..."
Now, I am neither Jesus, nor am I about to be arrested (that I know of), but I am going away, and so this prayer of Jesus' has become my prayer, for all of you. It has been a singular joy and privilege to serve you as your Rector. As I wrote in my letter of resignation, we have laughed together, cried together, forgiven one another, learned from one another, and prayed together, and there hasn't been a moment of that which I would give back. I have done my level best to reveal the name of God to you, to encourage you in the faith, and to keep you spiritually safe, and it has been my honor. Prior to moving here, never in a million years did I ever think that I would call Philadelphia home, but from day one you have welcomed me with open arms and made it easy to call Philadelphia/Havertown/Ardmore home. I know now, in my future travels, that I have a place to visit here, where a piece of my heart will forever reside.
If there is one thing I can encourage you to do as I depart, it is this: continue to take seriously the words of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not just a nice story, or a moral teaching, or a code of ethics. It is not just a social convention, a club gathering, or a building in which to celebrate life's transitions. It is the very Word of God, and it offers life and light to all. Take hold of that promise and never let go. Care for one another with an abundance of love. Remember that in the days and months to come, when you weary of the interim process, when you grow tired of the important discernment work that is to come, when you long for "the way things used to be." The way things used to be is never anywhere near as important as the way you can make things to be now. God has given you the power to call God's kingdom into being, so do not linger too long over the art of the past, while the blank canvas of your future gathers dust.
I have been a part of your story, and I have treasured my part. But I am only a part. It is your story; it is God's story. And it goes on. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and the center of my soul, for giving me the grace to be a part of this story, for sharing your lives with me, for letting my family share in this journey as well, and for helping raise my children (it takes a village).
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
I love you.