I have served alongside you for two years as a seminary student and, for these last few months, as your deacon. This coming Sunday is my last one with you, and so I want to say thank you. I am graduating from Church Divinity School of the Pacific next week. Soon after that, I am moving back to my home diocese in Indiana to be ordained as a priest and begin working full time in parish ministry. My work here with you has made that possible and has given me the tools and grounding to enter that work with joy and confidence.
You told me stories of how God is real in your lives. You coached me in beautiful liturgy when I didn’t know where to stand. You prayed for me and you prayed with me—at the altar rail before the pandemic, and then on Zoom and on the Sunday stream. You were brave enough to share real struggles. You listened deeply when I preached. You encouraged me and built me up as a leader. You followed Jesus in times of fear and grief. Thank you.
Rev. Chris and I were reflecting this week about how much this parish has been through in these last two years—how far we’ve walked together. I’ve been with you through wildfires, Chris’s sabbatical, Ginger’s departure, Heather’s arrival, political turmoil, and a pandemic, besides the myriad of more private griefs and joys that happened in that time. My first sermon here (and first sermon ever!) was in October 2019 when we gathered in a dark church with candles and flashlights because of a fire season power shutoff. It seems like it’s been one crisis after another—and yet, through you, God has given me what I needed in this place to not only survive but to thrive as a spiritual leader. Thank God, and thank you.
Our Psalm for Sunday is Psalm 1, with its beautiful image of the righteous person as a tree planted by streams of water. I want you to know that you have been a stream of water for me. You have helped me to grow and flourish. You have helped me to claim my call in new ways. You have helped me in my walk with God as I’ve walked with you.