Today’s Reading: John 16:28 (NIV)
28 [Jesus said,] “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
Yesterday was a wonderful day to renew friendships, make new friends, and enjoy family. There were two very special celebrations happening simultaneously just a few short miles from each other. Faith Church celebrated Pastor Appreciation Day by hosting an incredible covered dish dinner. Our Lindenwood friends came to celebrate, and they brought family and friends with them. Our extended families came. Pastor Kim and Ken were surrounded by members of their family. Granddaughter Taylor entertained us all with her bubbly personality and sweet disposition. She is such a cutie! Our daughter Rachel and her children and our son Benjamin, Kari and their kiddos came. Our niece Courtney, her Adam and sweet Kyndahl, along with Jeff’s sister Linda and husband Bob, and Jeff’s parents ate with us. Our son David made it just in time for dessert at the parsonage. It kind of felt a little like Christmas, having all of our grandchildren under one roof at one time. The desserts were fabulous and the kids indulged in just a little too much sugar. Fortunately, Faith Church built a strong and sturdy parsonage. It is still standing today in the afterglow of yesterday’s festivities.
The first church Jeff served as a student pastor while in college also had a huge celebration yesterday. Stephan Memorial celebrated 100 years of ministry. We were married in that church 31 years ago, and it was hard not to be there. Pastors and friends and members of the youth group that Jeff had worked with all gathered for a special worship service with our Bishop and their new superintendent. They praised and thanked God for the lives who were touched in the last 100 years through ministry and mission of this congregation. We were blessed to catch up with one two families from Stephan who became our mentors and dear friends at dinner last night. We heard delightful stories of their celebration and who they saw, and what a good time it was. We were trying to figure out just how long it had been since we had last seen Phyllis and Joe. They had traveled from Wasilla, Alaska, where they live, just to be there for the 100th anniversary homecoming. I’m not sure, but I think this may have been thirty years since we've seen Phyllis, and can I tell you, she has not changed a bit.
Do you know what it is like to pick up with someone right where you leave off? Yesterday reminded me of just how precious the family of God is. We can be separated through the years and in time, and yet, when we all get together again, it’s as if we were never apart. I truly believe this is a glimpse of how it will one day be in heaven, when we will all be together, face to face, in the physical presence of our Lord. It will be as if we have never been apart. The Stephan family impacted our lives and ministry when we were just beginning our journey. Part of who we are today is because of this church, and there are no words to express our thanks and gratitude for what they mean to us. Faith Church continues to nurture and sustain us in ministry today. We are growing together in community as we reach out to our neighborhood in the name of Jesus. How blessed we are to be part of this family called Faith.
How Jesus must have looked forward to going home to see His Father. Can you hear it in His voice as He describes His imminent homecoming? What a celebration we have to look forward to!
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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