Goodbye with Gratitude

I tend to remember dates. Ask me when Amy and I had our first date and I can tell you the exact day and time (March 14, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.). Ask me when we adopted our cat or when Florence first walked and I do not need to open a calendar to tell you the precise moments (May 17, 2014 and November 5, 2022, respectively). If you were to approach me and say, “How long have you been at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church,” I could answer quickly, “I started on June 10, 2019, or 1,494 days ago today.”

Over those 1,494 days, I have written 27 – now 28 – pastor’s columns. I have written of upcoming events and theological tussles, of communal hopes and personal beliefs. Today, I write to you to say goodbye.

Rather than general feelings of gratitude, I want to leave you with three specific dates during my time at BMPC that will always remind me of the grace, joy, and love I have experienced here with you all:

First, was July 3, 2019. On that day I officiated my first memorial service here at BMPC. It was a small service with just family members in attendance, but it was a moment I will never forget. It was the first time I was afforded the privilege of walking with one of you through grief, loss, and sorrow. Since then I have officiated many more memorial services and funerals, and each time I have been moved by the honor it is to be with a family at such a tender time. I keep a journal of these services in my desk, and every now and then I open it to pray over a few families. When I do, I am reminded of the immense privilege it is to be your pastor. Even though I will leave in a few weeks, I will not forget these moments spent together. 

Second, was Tuesday, March 17, 2020. That evening the Deacons held an emergency meeting to discuss how best to response to the new COVID-19 pandemic. Our community was in the midst of a two-week lockdown, and there was a corporate concern for church members who lived alone or who were especially at risk of being exposed to this unfamiliar virus. How could these individuals get the medicine, food, or essentials they needed? In response, every Deacon volunteered to call 20-30 church members, to check in on who needed help, and to respond if possible. Many Deacons ended up staying in touch with the people they called throughout the pandemic, checking in with them on a regular basis. Others even did grocery shopping or ran errands on their behalf. What I will remember, though, is the immediate, unwavering response of the Deacons to want to help all those in our community in a time of uncertainty. It was a beautiful example of God’s love made manifest right here in Bryn Mawr.

Third, of course, was November 19, 2021, when Amy and I welcomed Florence Elizabeth to our family. The moment we found out we were pregnant, all of you were there to celebrate with us! We could not have imagined the outpouring of love and joy. From her debut on the front steps of the Sanctuary as baby Jesus for the Christmas pageant on December 24, 2021, to her baptism on June 19, 2022, to her presence at Wednesday Night Dinners and in the nursery each week, we have felt the love of God through your love of baby Florence. What a gift!

Thank you, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, for every day we have been together. I will leave this community with a heart full of gratitude for every single one of you. Even amidst all the ups and downs of these past four years, I could not have hoped for a more life-giving, beautiful time together.