Now it's time to say goodbye
The words of the apostle Paul bear repeating as found in Philippians 1:3-6 (NRSV). They represent a heartfelt sentiment within me. “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”
Thank you for the welcome celebration at University Church in East Lansing upon my arrival in 2004. We worshiped and fellowshipped together. We began our sojourn. Little did I know that I’d return to University Church again and again for worship, for meals with the School for Pastoral Ministry, for meetings, for exceptional service and hospitality in hosting the Bishop’s Christmas Party! Before I head for Illinois Great Rivers, I am going to worship at University Church one more time. Not only will I attend worship, I will be remembering my installation in 2004, the faces, the preaching, the singing and the presence of God in that place. “In our end is our beginning.”
Thank you for the gracious hospitality and care extended to my family. You have blessed Beverly, Tandreka, Anaya and me. Cards and letters of support have come our way constantly. During my hospitalization in 2011, they turned into a deluge of compassion. You purchased another Episcopal Residence in Lansing. It has served the office well. Plus, Bishop Kiesey and her husband are excited about living in it. They have seen it and like what it offers.
Thank you for the good times at Camp Michigamme, Choir Camp at Lake Louise and other camps. I met the church there under the canopy of nature.
Thank you for the season of Confirmation Rallies now consigned to history. I loved meeting our young folk, teaching them, answering their questions, hearing their stories, taking pictures with each church group and breaking bread. The youthful shouts, laughter but more importantly their journey to membership in Christ’s Church provided ample evidence of a burgeoning church of today and tomorrow. These Confirmation Rallies reminded me, “from whence I came.” Parents and members of my church trained me in the way “I should go.”
Thanks for the commitment and work of every clergy, layperson in the local churches, the conference offices and the Area Office. Thanks especially for every District Superintendent that has served during my time here. They have taught me much and walked the challenging road of appointment making. Not much would happen without their leadership on the front lines. In the best sense of the word, the episcopacy is about serving and servanthood to all God’s people. Because of you, we’ve made the world a better place, locally and globally. Yet, we are barely living up to our potential in Christ. If I had a quarter for every piece of pie, cake, cookies, pasties, fruit, vegetable and meat I’ve eaten since my sojourn in Michigan, I’d be rich. Best of all, I have been more than enriched by your outstanding record of second mile giving to “the least of these.”
Thanks for the numerous ways you’ve welcomed me during local church visits, conference meetings, powerful Bishop Day celebrations, Annual Conferences or speaking with heavy heart at Memorial Services and Funerals “to those that mourn.” How could a tear not force its way to my face when loss seemed so final but no less penultimate?
Thank you Lord, for ministerial challenges that have driven me to my knees-for the rough places that required more time for Bible study and reflection-for the mountaintop experiences that fed and feed my soul!!
Thank you Lord. By your amazing grace, I found JOY everyday serving the Michigan Area.
Years ago, Walt Disney’s Mouseketeers ended their television program singing, “Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company: M-I-C-K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E.”
Thus, I close out the final days of August with a parallel doxology.
Now it’s time to say goodbye to faith-filled company:
C-H-R, run the race, I-S-T, till we embrace, J-E-S-U-S. Amen.