Our family’s first Sunday at St. Paul’s was December 31, 2017. We were technically just visitors that Sunday coming to spy out the land, not unlike the Hebrews who spied on the promised land. It could not have been a more reassuring experience. I remember Stephanie and I talking about just how normal it felt! We knew it was going to be a great place for our family, and our hopes end expectations have been greatly exceeded.
A few weeks ago, I preached from 1 Thessalonians about the love Paul had for the church there despite having only known them for a short time. As my family and I prepare to leave, I find myself feeling the same way Paul did. He writes “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” St. Paul’s has become very dear to us. And although we haven’t even left yet I already miss you and long to see you!
On behalf of my entire family I want to say thank you. Thank you for making us feel at home on that very first Sunday. Thank you for taking a chance on an intern. Thank you for providing us with such a wonderful home. Thank you for your grace and mercy and compassion and generosity surrounding the entire fiasco with Felicity. Thank you for your friendships. Thank you for loving my wife and my kids. Thank you for not treating us like we were only temporary. Thank you for allowing me the chance to preach and teach and get to know you. Thank for providing me a safe place to make mistakes and work out kinks. Thank you for being a family. Thank you for being the hands, feet, and mouths of Jesus. And thank you for everything else!
In all honesty, I cannot imagine a better congregation for an intern. Your generosity has shined through and we have received far more than we have given. I have had the opportunity to take part in all aspects of ministry and have had the time and space to work on many tools and skills that I will take with me. I will be entering West Prairie Free Lutheran Church in such better shape because of what you have done for my family and me.
May God richly bless you in 2019 as you continue to grow in His grace. May He continue to use you as you seek to bring the gospel to the world. May many others be blessed by you in the way we have. We love you and look forward to living just down the road from you! Hopefully our paths will continue to cross.