I arrived in Longview two days after our wedding. I was unloading my wedding dress from the back of the car when an FUMC church member pulled into the driveway with a basket full of flowers and goodies. Throughout that first week, as we unpacked boxes and began ministry here, there was a steady parade of people, food, and welcomes. Over the last three years, it has been my honor and privilege to walk with you through the beautiful, heartbreaking, sad, exciting, tragic, and joyful moments and seasons of life. It has been a joy to teach and preach and together to be formed by the good news we find in Scripture.
No minister or ministry is perfect, and as I prepare to leave, I ask your forgiveness for anything done and left undone that did not point us faithfully to Christ. Knowing and loving this church family has changed and formed me in ways that I can’t fully express my gratitude for, even though I never seem to be at a loss for words (especially on Sunday morning). As we have done the hard and holy work of being the church together, I have been blessed beyond measure by your kind hearts and genuine desire to follow Christ in all you do and say. I am especially grateful to my Faith Matters crew, who so patiently and faithfully gathered with me each week and were always willing to do the hard work of worship.
If there is anything I would like to leave with this church family, it is just one word - hesed. That one little Hebrew word which packs such a punch: hesed - God’s covenantal faithfulness, loving-kindness, steadfastness. God always does what God promises to do. And while God has not promised that each of our days lived in this broken world will be easy, or even good, God has promised redemption and resurrection for all creation. God knew you before you were born. God has been faithfully working in your life long before you could have known it. God is working in your life right now, for your good. And God will always be faithfully working for your good.
It’s a hard thing to leave a church during such a time of unrest and uncertainty. It’s harder still to go without being able to hug you and say goodbye. But I trust that God is always faithful, always good, and I know God is holding all creation now. In days of joy, give thanks for hesed. In days of suffering, rely on hesed. In days of uncertainty, trust in hesed. In days of unrest, find rest in hesed. God is always faithful, and so we can still be grateful and find joy. I love you all and give thanks to God for you daily. Thank you for loving my family and me with such grace. I can’t wait to see how God continues to use this church family to be a beacon of hope for all.