Dear St. John’s,
In July, I announced that I’d be leaving in October to become an Air Force chaplain. That time has arrived and this Sunday will be my last as one of your priests. I want to thank you as I end my time here as an associate rector. Thank you for your support and encouragement over these last three years. Your influence has shaped me into the priest I am today. I also want to thank you for providing a spiritual home for Lauren, Rowan, and Phoebe.
I’m currently doing a lot of pushups, sit-ups, running, and some computer-based training to prepare for Officer Training School which will begin on October 20th at Maxwell Air Force Base. I’m scheduled to graduate on December 11th and will then report for duty on December 15th at Offutt Air Force Base, right outside of Omaha, Nebraska. It’s the second largest base in the Air Force, and from all accounts it will be a good place for me and the family (and very cold during the winter!). Lauren and the kids will most likely move to Nebraska in early December, but they will remain here in Montgomery while I’m at Officer Training School. You will see them around St John’s in worship either virtually or in person over the next couple of months.
When I was in the formal discernment process to become a priest, I was asked early on by the Commission on Ministry what I feared the most about becoming a priest. I told them my biggest fear was preaching. It wasn’t because I fear public speaking, but because I think speaking in the name of God to the people of God is an awesome responsibility–words from religious leaders can build up or they can tear down. I have spoken and written many words and shared them with you all over the past years in various settings from the pulpit, to small groups, to one on one meetings, but throughout all of those words I hope you have heard one thing. It’s what God the Father spoke over Jesus at his baptism. It’s what God speaks over each of us at our baptisms. It’s what God spoke before the foundation of the world: You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.
When St. Paul was leaving the Ephesians, he told them: “I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). And that is what I do as I leave you now. I commend you to God and the message of God’s grace which builds you up. You are God’s beloved child. You are loved. You are forgiven. And you are invited to walk with Jesus into new life no matter where you are or where you have been.
As I leave, I am already impressed with John’s leadership as the sixteenth rector of St John’s, and I’m excited to think about the future of the parish under his leadership. I’m reminded of a prayer I have prayed with friends in the past: “For all that has been, all that is, and all that will be, we thank you, Lord.”
The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.