dear Riverside Church friends... there are a thousand things i want to give to you, our first church family, as you celebrate your first Sunday in your new building!
a thousand thanks for welcoming me as a newly married, mostly terrified, incredibly self-centered young pastor's wife... for raising me to be a wife & mother, a friend & neighbor- one that can occasionally see past myself to reach out to those around me. you welcome and cherish each other so well.
a thousand i'm sorrys for the many times i was petty and selfish... you forgave me for so often letting my immaturity cloud my judgment. another round of thank you's for giving gracious counsel, careful criticism, and then pouring forgiveness on me.
you stand with each others' limitations so well.
a thousand tears wept together (at least that many)... i'm surprised Hixson didn't have to replace that hallway carpet from the mornings we spent grieving loss and hurt on each others' shoulders. we lost children, parents, siblings, grandparents... we cried over damaged friendships, painful and scary illness, broken marriages. we cried when we were sad, and we cried together.
you mourn with each other so well.
another thousand tears of laughter and embarrassing snorts of happiness that burst out when you're among the best sorts of friends. chili suppers (such as you will enjoy tomorrow- how i wish i could be there!), sweltering july picnics, late nights at the women's retreats, and seeing Zack dance on stage (the earthy dance? was that it? it has been several years, but i still smile when i think of it!)... these are moments i remember laughing long and hard with you.
you enjoy life together so well!
a thousand moments of celebration with you... your weddings, your graduations, your good news from the doctors, your children's births. the smiles, the toasts, the shared joys are among my most precious memories.
you celebrate each other so well.
a thousand layers of grace from the Lord. as He built up our faith and tore down our idols and pulled away our hardness and gave us new eyes and new hearts, we grew together and we are no longer who we once were. we are changed by His love, His freedom, His gentle call to turn to Him.
you follow Jesus together so well.
it is such an honor to have entered into these sacred moments with you. i can't find the words to tell you how i treasure my memories of 10 years with you. and to see you now? working together to purchase and restore a beautiful new home- the place you will welcome new families, accept them into your hearts, raise them up, mourn with them, laugh with them, celebrate with them, grow in grace with them? i am filled with gratitude for you and all the Lord has done!
as you enjoy your first Sunday without a set up/tear down crew (AAAAAHHH!), your first day singing and celebrating the risen Christ in the new sanctuary, your first morning of praying and hearing Scripture corporately in your new home, know that you have been lifted up from a thousand miles away.
And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace... Philippians 1:6-7