Pastor’s Paragraph—February 28, 2019

There are times in this life when words – even the most thoughtful and carefully crafted ones – are just not adequate to convey one’s feelings and emotions. This, for me, is one of those times.

So a common word which is commonly used to express appreciation for generous gifts that have been given and for heart-felt love that has been demonstrated in innumerable ways will have to suffice. The word which I want to share with you (my Calvary Church family) – the word that I would ask you to “hear” not only with your ears but especially with your hearts – is THANKS.

Numerous verses of Holy Scripture (Psalm 92:1 being among them) declare that “it is good to give thanks to the Lord.”  So upon my retirement as your pastor, I first of all want to “give thanks” to God for the opportunity and the privilege (and I mean privilege) of serving as the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church for the past 27 ½ years. So thank you, gracious and loving God, for making it possible for my family and me to be part of the Calvary Baptist family.

As I say “THANKS” to God for calling me to Calvary Baptist, I want to thank you, the members of our church family, for being such an amazing church. Thank you for being a congregation that is Christ-centered. Thank you for being the “body of Christ” (His arms and legs, His hands and feet, His voice and His heart) as you have ministered to “the Least, the Lost, the Left Out, and the Looked Over.”

Thank-you for being a loving church. Thank you for being a hands-on mission minded church. Thank you for being a “thinking-loving-God-with-your-minds-as-well-as- your-hearts” church. Thank you for being a church that “unites around the main thing” (the saving good news of Jesus Christ) while “respecting the views of others on other (important but not essential) things.” And thank you for loving one another through all things. Thank you for being a praying church.

There are so many “other things” for which I “Thank God in all my remembrances of you.” If I attempted to list all the things that I love about our church and for which I am thankful in regard to our church, then this already too long column would go on and on and on. (I told you that this was one of those times in my life when words were just not sufficient to fully express my emotions and feelings.)

So let me attempt to say the following on behalf of both Deborah and myself: 1) Thank you for being our “partners in ministry” (Philippians 1:3) from the first days of our time with you (September 1991) until now (Philippians 1:5); 2)Thank you for “being there” for us to help us celebrate our joys (marriages of our children, baptism of our son,  high school and college graduations of Katy, Nan, and John Robert and the arrival of our grandchildren (I have told you that we are grandparents, haven’t I?) ; 3) Thank you for being there for us and for ministering to us during the challenging and “rough patches”, too (the death of Deb’s father, the death of my Dad, the death of Deb’s mother, my open heart surgery followed by my bout with clinical depression).

Thank you for providing us with a generous salary and with excellent benefits. Thank you for the Retirement Banquet and the “light roasting” program that followed. Thank you for the cards, the emails, the calls, and the gifts. Thank you for the extremely generous love offerings. Thank you for your hugs, and handshakes (and “fist bumps!). Thank you church family for being you and for allowing us to be part of such an incredible church fellowship.

Finally, Calvary family, Deborah and I (knowing that this is one of those times when words are simply inadequate) want to attempt to say “good-bye” (short for “God be with you”) as follows:

  • The good-byes we say to you today are only temporary. You see, Christians have the assurance of knowing that Good-byes are not final. We will say hello again. We will be together again. In this life, most likely. In heaven, for sure.

  • Christian good-byes are always punctuated with commas. Never finalized with periods.  And it is with a comma, that we – to you our precious Calvary Church family – say good- bye.

  • The French have a word for what we are trying to say to you. The word is “au revoir.” We usually translate “au revoir” as “good-bye.” But the literal translation means “with the hope of seeing you again.”

  • And it is “with the hope of seeing you again” that Deborah and I say good-bye to you.

  • We do not say “adieu” – for that is the French word for a final farewell. A good-bye punctuated with a period.

  • We really want to say good-bye punctuated with a comma. We really want to say “au revoir.” We really want to say good-bye “with the hope of meeting you again.”

           So, Thank-you
           “God be with you.”
           Today and always.
           “Au revoir” not “adieu.”
           With a comma, not with a period, Calvary family.
           With the assured hope of seeing you again.
In Christ’s love from a blessed and grateful pastor,

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