I’m lying in bed. The house is trashed, the food devoured and the kids happily messing around with a RC Helicopter that Mark received from Santa.
My heart is full of joy and sadness all at the same time……it has ebbed and flowed through out this day. Tremendous joy of knowing that the birth narrative of my Jesus is truth. Tremendous joy in the actualization and application of that truth. The carols we sang this morning were not just carols, they were songs of highest praise—Gloria in excelsis Deo!! O come, all ye faithful, JOYFUL AND TRIUMPHANT. What a gift it is, when Christmas falls on a Sunday, because there is no better way to begin a Christmas Day then among friends and family, worshipping our Savior together.
But there is very real grief tonight, as we say goodbye to three of our church staff ministers. God is calling to serve in new areas, and in new positions. TJ, our college and career staff person, is feeling led to pastor bivocationally. TJ is always quick to ask me if I need anything done, and then he is also quick to encourage me and remind me of God’s faithfulness. Aaron, our associate pastor who works with children is also very quick to give encouragement, especially to my two youngest.O how we will miss Aaron’s peaceful nature. And Gene has challenged me and pushed me to keep moving forward. He has taught me a love for Christ’s words and the importance of doing scripture work and authentic prayer. He’s been my friend, my mentor, my brother.
While we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these moves were and are God’s will, it does not erase the pain of saying Goodbye. Bittersweet tears of joy and sorrow as I type this: sweet tears of joy for how excited I am for each of these wonderful ministers, tears of sorrow in losing mentors, friends, encouragers and my pastors.
My crew and I had a very good Christmas together. Much laughter, much teasing each other and some rather serious, total chaos. Their smiles I will treasure, as they opened their gifts. I didn’t need a gift this year–their smiles and laughter was the greatest gift of all to my soul.
Tonight as I review this day though, I am low. I must return to grueling days at work soon. ‘And tonight is one of those nights when I am nervous, shaky, wondering if I can really do this, if I can really parent these 4 very unique little people. And I am going to deeply miss our church staff. I already do. But I hold on to a couple of verses that have been my anchor, my plumb line in the midst of chaos and storms:
1st Thess. 3:8-10
8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
So, a bittersweet Christmas it is.
Watch over our friends as you call them out to new places of service. May they be welcomed by their new churches with such enthusiasm and warmth and as family. Give them wisdom for the weeks ahead, as they learn their new church members, and as they step out in confident leadership. God, that reminds me of sheep. They are their new church’s shepherd, help them to shepherd even when it is hard.
Help their famiies to adjust to this change in ministry. Let them, too, be welcomed into their new churches with such love and acceptance, that they will instantly make connections and friends in their new churches.
God our hearts are grieved to see them go. My heart is grieved to see them go. But one day, God, we will all get to go to our real home with you, where we can all stand together before our God and cry “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” together in one voice.
Bless my friends, my pastors and grant them peace, rest. Impress on each of their souls how much they will be missed here and yet how much we who remain will remain faithful in praying earnestly for them. Amen and Amen.