I thank my God every time I remember you. – Philippians 1:3
This is my last weekly article for our Ebenezer Lutheran Website. According to our website statistics we had over 35,000 hits for various reasons since we began posting our worship services, newsletters, bulletins, sermons, etc. I am very grateful to offer this service on our website. It would not have been possible without the help of many people of our congregation who volunteered their services throughout these years and I thank them as well.
After serving over 28 years at Ebenezer Lutheran Church it is time for me say good-bye. I am retiring after 41 years of active service in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod as a Director of Christian Education and an Ordained Pastor.
Although this following letter was written to our congregation at Ebenezer and was also printed in our September Newsletter, I would like to share it with our followers of website.
I am at a lost of words in my gratitude for 28 years of serving my fellow saints at Ebenezer Lutheran Church. It was a wonderful rewarding joy to be your pastor by grace alone in our Savior Jesus Christ. Through the help of our secretary Mary Sprick I have inserted the official acts of my ministry at Ebenezer. These don’t tell the whole story of the mission and ministry over the years but gives us a glimpse of the activity of our congregation.
There are many good byes recorded in scripture that are very moving and come to my mind as I write this article.
In Genesis we read the story of Jacob and his uncle Laban and the years they spent together. It was an adventure, to say the least, the time they spent together. When it was time to separate from Laban and for Jacob and his family to go back to his homeland of his fathers, Laban gave Jacob the following blessing: “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.” That is my prayer for all of you. My prayers will always be for our beloved Ebenezer, “Eben” the Rock and the words of Samuel “The Lord has helped us hitherto.” (1 Samuel 7:12).
Another moving goodbye recorded in Scriptures is Acts 20, where Paul says goodbye to the Elders of Ephesus. He knew that he would not see them again. He left them with these loving words: “32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing… In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” 36 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.”
On Jesus’ last night with the Disciples before his death, he wrote these dear words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Christ is our peace and in Him we rest.
That is where I leave it, in Christ alone and his redeeming love and forgiveness. There is so much more to be done and so much left undone. I leave you with these words of our Lord “Never will I leave you never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5.
It is time to put our hand to plow and move forward and leave it to the words of Lord in Luke 9:42 “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Christ’s last words to His disciples before his ascension were: “You will be My witnesses” Acts 1:8. Ebenezer be Christ’s witness and continue in Christ words moving forward in His name.
In behalf of Margaret and myself we say thank you to all of you. I said I was at a loss of words and I am. I let Christ and His Word speak at this time, and leave with the words of John the Baptist “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30.
Prayer: As we say farewell to our loved ones we entrust them into your care. We pray for happiness and joy to be ahead of them, for wisdom and guidance to be beside them, and for grace and truth to be behind them, pushing them onwards into your goodness. We know that you will always love and protect them, wherever they go. In the name of Jesus. Amen