Dear God’s Beloved,
On Monday of this week I loaded the last of our belongings out of my parents’ garage into the back of my car. I called the dog over and got her situated, and then entered our brand new Texas address into the GPS. I hugged my parents, and said, “See you later,” and then pointed the hood Southbound on I-35. And then I started crying. Again.
A few years ago, Grace Cox-Johnson told me that tears are gifts. She told me then that when she allowed herself the gift of tears, she could fully express the grief, love, pain, and the everything of any given experience. In funerals I’ve led, I’ve invoked a prayer that invites God to “take our tears and transform them into rivers of new life.” Our tears baptize us again, calling us back to the days when we received the water of new life that allows us to see things anew.
All of my tears now are helping me see my deep gratitude. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Suzanne and I cannot begin to express to you how deeply grateful we are for the life of ministry we have shared together with you over the last six plus years. Thank you for the extraordinary send-off- the stoles Grace designed are stunning, and we treasure the memory book and friendship bracelets. Our refrigerator is stocked with Kansas City barbecue sauce (thanks be to God!), and we’ll be drinking Boulevard Beer and Roasterie Coffee for the next few months. Unfortunately, Eliza discovered the joy of Christopher Elbow chocolates and they did not make it to Texas! Thank you for the incredible lunch and the wide spread of heart-healthy pies-I did my best to try all of them! A special thank you to the inimitable leadership of Meredith Cecil and her Fellowship Team, for all they did to make that lunch happen.
Now we begin a different journey together, the journey of best preparing Community to welcome whomever comes next as your Associate Minister. As part of the covenant of closure we shared together this last Sunday, I covenant with you to separate myself from participating in the life of Community during this interim time and for at least one year after your new clergy staff team member arrives. My greatest desire in observing this boundary is to honor the deep affection I have for Community. So, this means I won’t be available for pastoral calls and concerns, hospital visits, pastoral care and counseling conversations, funerals, weddings, or any other responsibilities, except at the invitation of the current ministers. I know this can be difficult, but I am so grateful for the depths of love that make this necessary and more important.
We will not be strangers to Kansas City, though. My family is still there and we will be back regularly to visit them. Kansas City will always hold a place of deep importance and home in our lives. We will still be Chiefs fans, Current fans and, yes, we will even be Royals fans, sad though that prospect be. You may see photos of us in town on Facebook or hear that we’ve been around. It is nothing personal that we will not be with you. We will do all we can to respect this covenant and keep our distance, again out of nothing but friendship and love.
With all that said, we just want to say one more thing. It’s a deep honor to us that the Steeple of Light will be lit the second weekend of September in honor of our new ministry with the good people at Creekwood Christian Church. Your light is a reminder that no matter what distance may come, Suzanne, Lydia, Eliza and I will tend to the light of Community that will always burn bright in our hearts. We’ll give thanks for that light which doesn’t just belong to Community, but which invites all of us forward into newness, into life, and into a bright future sharing God’s real, radical, and inclusive love. And we promise: we’re going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.