A little over six years ago – in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina - I began a weekly email at Grace. At first the intent was simply to help coordinate our relief efforts but over the years it became another place to share thoughts and heart. Earlier today we sent my last weekly email to the Grace family – which I’ve reposted below:
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.
1 Thessalonians 3: 9, 12 & 12
I started and restarted and edited and reedited this email more times than you can imagine. It is difficult to find the words to express the profound gratitude that Kim and I feel as we reflect on our years at Grace. As I often do when I can't find the words to say, I've turned to Scripture and Paul's words to the church in Thessalonica capture much of what is in our hearts.
Our partnership with you in the gospel has above more than anything else been a source of great joy. Together we have loved the Lord our God with heart, soul, mind and strength. Together we have loved our neighbors as we love ourselves. And together we have discovered the power of Christ's love to bind us all together in perfect unity as the family of God.
Those bonds of love are too strong to break and are knit together in countless memories of moments that we will always treasure in our hearts.
We love you, we will continue to pray for you and we will always be grateful for the privilege God entrusted to us to allow me to serve as your pastor. We simply can't thank God enough for all the joy we have because of you.
I close most services with the benediction that my home church pastor used. Each time I do it is a reminder of where I've come from, where I am going and most importantly, Who is going with me. I will close with that benediction one last time this Sunday morning (and remember there's just one service at 10:00 a.m. in the Sanctuary). But since so many of you have asked for a copy of the benediction I will also use it to close this final email.
May the Living Lord Jesus Christ go with you
May He go above you to watch over you
Behind you to encourage you,
Beside you to befriend you
Within you to give you peace and
Before you to show you His way
Now and forevermore
To the glory of God!