How does one say goodbye after five years of ministry alongside one another? How does one begin to express gratitude? Words often fall short expressing the depth and breadth of the feelings deep in one’s heart. But try we must, and so we do.
You all have nurtured and cared for us as we have grown into our co-ministry. Through our time together many have come to know Christ and stepped into a deeper relationship with Christ and his church. We sang together of God’s faithfulness. We prayed for our own deepening of faith. We have strengthened the bonds that held us together so that we could both hold one another through times of deep sorrow, and rejoice with one another in moments of great joy. This is a bond that God has blessed and that is everlasting.
The bond must now be broken open so that more can be invited in. It is only by opening the circle that God can make it wider and more beautiful. We have no doubt that God will continue to be faithful to the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren in these next steps and will bring new leadership that can nurture, challenge, and grow your ministry. You will always be in our prayers with love as we move to our new ministry.
In 2 Thessalonians we read these words of benediction: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). This scripture makes a of couple helpful observations.
First - God’s love and grace is both a comfort and an opportunity for hope. Even in moments of grief and change, God is there ready to move us into a hope-filled future, one in which God is always present. Not only does this love and grace give us hope for eternal life, but this love and grace gives us hope that there is comfort and hope available to us in this life. If we only but open our eyes, we can see the ways in which the Spirit moves us forward, into the future, always equipping us to be Christ’s disciples in this world.
Second - even in moments of transition there is good work and word to be done. Hagerstown Church of the Brethren is a place rich with ministry opportunities. The church is in a community aching for the word of God, a word that invites all to the table to receive God’s grace and compassion, through Jesus Christ. Grieving and change cannot get in the way of this important task. So, it is up to each of you to continue the ministry here in both work and word, all the while trusting your search committee and leadership to wisely bring you through the transition.
Be at peace, sisters and brothers. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. “May the Lord be above you to over-shadow you, beneath you to uphold you, before you to guide you, behind you to protect you, close beside you to make you able for all things, and to reward your faithfulness with joy and peace which the world cannot give— neither can it take away. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory now and evermore. Amen.”
Pastors Audrey and Tim