“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
At the risk of oversharing or being overly dramatic (please remember that I was for a brief time a drama major), I will tell you that this week has been filled with both “the best of times and the worst of times.” This week, along with the past few months have been, as Dickens once wrote in the quote above, “the season of light” and “the season of darkness, “the spring of hope,” and “the winter of despair.” Isn't it amazing that the human heart can both at once?
You, United Christian Church of Austin, along with my family, have been my light and my hope. As my lifelong dream of married life now officially comes to an end, my lifelong dream of shepherding a church of kind-hearted folk through their own joys and struggles of life may now be coming into being. As the Great Story of the Gospel teaches us, death does not have the last word. We can endure the endings in life because as people of faith, we know there is always rebirth, or as one of my favorite hymns sings,
“In the cold and snow of winter
there’s a spring that waits to be
unrevealed until its season
something God alone can see.”
This is the Eternal Story - the “circle of life” - witnessed in the Gospel, in my life, and in the stories you have told me about your own lives.
If I have learned anything over the past year, it is that God embraces us through the Body of Christ, through beloved community. I honestly don’t know how other people carry grief without a loving biological and church family. Even though human love can be impermanent, “the love of God is everlasting” -- it keeps finding its way to us, over and over again, through beloved community, through human kindness, through the abundance of Creation, and through the inspiration of the Word. God’s love is relentless like that. So thank you, the people of United Christian Church of Austin, for showing that relentless love to me these past months -- for being a channel of God’s grace and mercy to me and my family.
Now I pray that I might do the same for you over a long and fruitful pastorate. I pray that I might prove worthy of the faith our Search Committee and Executive Committee have placed in me by presenting me as your candidate for the settled pastorate. We have done such amazing work together this past year, hand-in-hand, despite a pandemic, despite transitions, and despite the challenges of our own personal lives, and so I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us. Like you, I have big dreams for us, and I have bright faith our future together will be blessed and beautiful.