I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I'm thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it's always a prayer full of joy.[i] (Philippians 1.3-4)
Though we think of it as the special word of the end of worship, the word “benediction” simply means “good words.” Here are my “good words” for you as I write this final staff reflection.
The picture above shows all the wonderful tangible gifts that you gave me Saturday evening at that fabulous fare well dinner (and Sunday at youth group lunch). Thank you and thank you and thank you! I love them all! And they hold precious memories. These gifts and these memories will sustain me as I move through the next year or so before I come back to be with you at congregation gatherings. As the Senior Minister’s spouse! A role I also treasure.
I have just spent the morning (Monday) with Marta and Hal in transition meetings. More are scheduled for Tuesday with JT and the rest of the staff. Rev. Marta is a true gift! She and Hal will be, are already becoming, a great team. Please remember to wear your name tags for her so she can learn names and faces! Please support them both as they move into ministry with you together! Things will be new for Hal and for all of you as well as Marta. Be gentle with yourselves, with Plymouth’s beloved staff and with one another.
Plymouth is coming alive after our pandemic days, beginning to sprout with new people and ministries. The future is so promising! I do thank God for each of you and our time together over the past 8 years and 4 months. Before I leave you with the benediction that I love so much (see the footnote telling from whom I learned it), hear these words of encouragement from Philippians, 4.4-7:
Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. Don't be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.[ii]
In the goodness of God you were born into this world.
By the grace of God you have been kept all the day long, even unto this hour.
And by the love of God, fully revealed in the face of Jesus the Christ,
You are being made Whole.[iii]
Go in peace to love and serve, my dear Plymouth!
With you always on the journey,
[i] & [ii] Bible, Common English. CEB Common English Bible with Apocrypha - eBook [ePub] (Kindle Locations 45178-45181).
[iii] Adapted from the benediction created by the late Rev. Dr. John R. Claypool IV who was my pastor as a teen at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He later became an Episcopal priest.