Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
-- BCP, page 232
1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111;
Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
Dear gentle readers, my Emmanuel Church family: we come with this offering to the last installment of "Padre's Post." The time to say good-bye has come. This Sunday is my last day with you.
Words fail me to express my gratitude to you for the honor of letting me be your pastor, priest, and teacher these nine-plus years. When the 2009 Vestry called me to be your rector, none of us knew what our life together would be like -- though we all certainly had hopes and dreams.
I am here to tell you that the privilege of being your rector has been for me a joy and delight beyond my wildest dreams. We have walked in love with each other, worshipping God in beauty and holiness, through good and hard times, in joy and in sorrow, and as a people who are "forgiven, loved and free" (Hymn 304). We have prayed that God would make us instruments of God's peace. We have cared for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ; and we have also sought to care for those beyond the circle of our fellowship who are in need in this community.
Thank you for being who you are. Emmanuel is graced with people who strive to love God and to love their neighbor. You are a strong Christian community. You have taken on the mission of embracing and welcoming all whom God loves. To practice unconditional love is to know the heart of God.
To love God, to love one another, and to love our neighbor as ourselves: this is the mission that Jesus has entrusted to all who follow him. It is God's mission. Therefore, it is far greater than any one person's involvement in that mission because it is grounded in the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!
Thank you for striving to be better people and for working to become a better community while accepting one another as we are. The Rev. Dr. Tony Lewis, my Greek and New Testament professor as well as an amazing human being, frequently reminded his students that, "Sin being what it is and people being who we are," we are far from perfect.
Or as our former Assistant Bishop, Francis Gray, once told us at diocesan convention, "If I ever found the perfect church, it would cease to be perfect the moment that I joined it." We have been together long enough to know that none of us is perfect and that as a community we are not there yet. Thank you for your patience with me about my own imperfections. I ask your forgiveness for them. Forgive each other's failings as well. We all have a lot of room to grow into the likeness of Jesus.
This week's collect sums up my prayer for you: May God continue to grant you grace to receive all the goodness that God has prepared for you and may you be strengthened to walk each day in the blessed imitation of Christ that will make you the full and complete human beings you can be because God desires and dreams your becoming like him. (See Philippians 1:6).
God will provide you with a rector whose own contributions will enhance your spiritual growth, strengthen you for service, and lead you to greater deeds that grow God's reign than you thought possible. Remember your name: God is with you.
"All will be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." -- Dame Julian of Norwich (c.1417)
I take you with me in my heart and in my prayers.
Under the Mercy,