I have two more blogs to write - this one and another on the thirteenth. My departure letter is attached in this issue of the E-Courier and it expresses my feelings very clearly. The feelings of gratitude and hope - of love and friendship.
I want to make a small comment about hope.
“But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
Hope in the Lord.
When I arrived at St. Stephen’s five years ago - fresh out of seminary and ready to start my first call - I found that not everybody had hope. Some would use a mathematical formula to estimate the amount of time we had left. Others would say that we were closer to the end than to the beginning. I saw something very different. I saw so much potential. So much life. Such necessary ministry needed in our community. I saw hope. Abundant and unquestionable hope.
It was and is in the mission of feeding that the hope is obvious. For it is there that we encounter the risen Christ day after day. Month after month. Year after year. In the people we serve and the volunteers we support - in the members and friends of the congregation - we encounter the risen Christ. And when our hope is placed in those places we find renewed strength. Strength that shows us the power of our small congregation. We are not just another stone edifice in the community, no, we are a source of God’s love and mercy in a city that is increasingly suffering from the effects of poverty. Did you know that the work we do is an inspiration to other congregations? Some much larger and more wealthier than us.
Hope in the Lord is what we have and what we need, you and I, as we traverse these new paths in front of us. I think one of the greatest testaments to the work of this congregation over the past five years is hope in a bright and certain future. At last night’s Council meeting I witnessed the laying of groundwork towards this future. A new financial plan to chip away at the deficit. Another to renew the Empty Bowl Dinner that can face the ever changing dynamics of personnel, COVID, and the economic ramifications of restaurants from the past 18 months. Our Council is functioning at a great level and is leading the church into the next phase of St. Stephen’s chapter of doing God’s work.
How will you be joining in this exciting time?
Yours in Christ,