“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”
(Eph 1:16-18, ESV)
59 months ago, to the day, I sat down to write my first Pastor’s Column for our monthly newsletter here at Marble, and today I sit down to write my last … admittedly, with mixed emotions. A part of me feels the sting of knowing that Rochelle and I will be leaving the faith family we have lived with for these past five years and that we have come to know and love. But another part is feeling an excitement around what the future is bringing for that same faith family, including Rochelle and me. So, with such mixed emotions, I reflect on these past five years, and consider what lies ahead.
First and foremost, and on behalf of Rochelle and myself, please know that we are grateful beyond words for all the love and compassion we have experienced through you here at Marble. You have embraced us as both friends and fellow disciples of Christ, and we are better people for all we have learned and experienced because of this time that we have shared together. For this, we are humbly grateful.
Looking back on our time together, my heart is warmed by the worship, ministry, and spiritual formation we have shared, and the transformative journey we have travelled together. How much I cherish our walking together as our hearts have further deepened, our doors have opened wider, our presence in this community has become more impactful, and our understanding of our God given purpose has become clearer. Together, we have each gained and grown in our respective and important ways. I am leaving a better person and Christian disciple because of the time we have spent together. My hope is that you may be able to say similar things about yourself from our time together.
Looking forward, the word excitement does not even begin to express my feelings around the amazing future that lies ahead for you here at Marble. God has placed in our midst a Spirit-filled plan for moving forward in Christian ministry and discipleship. Yes, the journey was not always easy, requiring substantial effort, commitment, determination, and personal soul searching. But your embrace of that Ministry Plan also reflects your deep desire to live and flourish in the strength, wisdom, love and promise of God-in-Christ.
At least for me—and would like to believe as well for the congregation of Marble Memorial UMC—July 1st, 2013, marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Admittedly, that chapter is coming to a close a bit sooner than I was anticipating. That said, I believe in our United Methodist system of sending those ordained for ministry to those places where they and their particular God given gifts are further put to God’s use. As such, a new chapter begins for me this July, but so it does also for Marble. I do believe that the Holy Spirit is active in this place, and also in the hearts of this congregation. I am excited about what lies ahead for you and the ministry that will be manifest as you participate in God’s continuing mission of restoration. I will continue to pray for each of you, for this community, and for your new spiritual leader and partner in ministry. It is because you are who you are that I know the blessing of love and grace that you will extend and embrace Pastor Jackie Roe with.
I have so much more to say, but I think it prudent to wrap up this final article. Still, two very important items need mention. First, I am profoundly humbled and grateful for the Christian intimacy you have offered me, whether it be in a hospital room, a funeral parlor, a living room, around a kitchen table, at a committee meeting, or even in casual conversation in a coffee shop or a number of other venues. I am honored and consider it a sacred privilege that you have shared so much of your lives with me. Second, I continue to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that Marble Memorial UMC may continue increasing without end as a light on the hill, manifesting ever growing Christ centeredness as both a community of faith and as individual disciples. May all your interactions, decisions, directions, and endeavors, reflect that light of Christ, that you may know and live in the sure hope and grace of God.
May you forever be strengthened by the Holy Spirit and filled with the Peace of Christ, and may you always be a blessing to all you encounter … Pastor Bob