“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” wrote A.A. Milne in his wonderful classic Winnie-the-Pooh.
The last several weeks have been some of the most challenging days of my life. I hope it is no secret that I am quite fond of you all. Serving as your pastor, journey beside you as a sojourner and friend has filled me with so much joy and contentment.
UBC is an extraordinary faith community filled with a myriad of wonderfully interesting and gifted people. I have been blessed by your love and support for my family and me in countless ways. We have established rooted relationships that will last a lifetime.
As I wrote to you the week after you unanimously called me to be your pastor:
It is no small thing to step out in faith on a new journey of calling a pastor. Both parties do their best to get to know each other, our individual and collective dreams, and the matching of congregational and pastoral assets. But at the end of the day, it comes down to trust in each other and God.
We are stepping out onto a new adventure together. We will discover more about each other along the way. There will be laughter, growing pains, and powerful moments of God’s work along the way.
Reflecting on these words over four years and a global pandemic later, they could not feel truer today as they did then. We have journeyed together through some remarkably creative, complicated, and innovative paths, finding ourselves, hopefully, in a much healthier place than when we began.
I know that I am a much better person, follower of Jesus, pastor, husband, father, and friend because of you. You have shaped and formed me in incredibly wonderful ways that I have yet to realize. My prayer is that I have affected your lives in at least a fraction of the ways you have positively affected mine.
As the great T.S. Eliot wrote, “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
Monday, May 2, brings the beginning of a new chapter in the life, work, and legacy of University Baptist. I have a strong spiritual intuition that this next chapter will be astonishing as you continue to trust the leadership of God and faithfully give your best selves to the redeeming work of God through UBC.
And so, though we part ways, the journey together has been a humbling honor. I take our beginning and end as inspiration to start anew. My hope for you is the same.
My prayer is that you will turn to wonder as you forge ahead in faith, continue to put a premium on your relationships, embrace one another with grace and openness, wrap the UBC staff we extravagant love and support, and seek to find the joy in how God does marvelous things when our expectations are interrupted.
Thank you for the honor of serving as your senior pastor, the benefit of sojourning with you, and the joy of calling you, friends. Until we meet again on this incredible journey of faith...
Grace and Peace,