Thank you from Pastor Jim & Elizabeth.
Dear Westminster –
I simply don’t have the words to express the gratitude we have for the wonderful farewell celebration for us. It was a great blessing to have the sanctuary filled with songs of praise and also filled with many people from Westminster past, present, and future. Thanks to all of you who wrote cards and notes. Thanks for the great food. Thank you for the fountain for my cactus garden. Thank you for recording so many videos for us (Mary gave the ‘uncut’ version of the video today so that Elizabeth and I can watch it tonight at our home). Thanks to the choir, worship band, Donna, Judy, and Megan, for using so many of my most cherished worship songs and melodies. Thanks to our awesome staff of Mary, Cori, Carole, Brent, Jorge, Becky, Jennifer, Leticia & Lisa for all of the extra work involved with the celebration – you did such a great job.
Thank you to the congregation for all of the heartfelt expressions of love and affection. Yesterday’s service and farewell program will always be one of the high points of my life. It felt like my favorite part of my favorite movie – “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
People have asked how I’m feeling now that I finished my last Sunday at Westminster and I said it feels like sending a son or daughter off to college or out into the world – there is happiness about gaining a bedroom – sadness about losing the closeness of a beloved family member – and the ongoing concern about how your son or daughter is doing for years into the future. In the same way — we thank God for you – for this church — and will carry you in our hearts and prayers in the years ahead.
Sorry that I was not able to get through my last sermon without getting all choked up. What I was trying to read for you at the end of the program yesterday was from an email sent by one of my best friends, Greg Montague. He and I were randomly assigned as roommates at UCSD our freshman year and both were on the rowing team during our years there. I thought Greg’s words were particularly appropriate for this season in our lives. I will insert them below for you….
I’m sure there will be many more tears from both of you, and your friends and family, this coming Sunday and the days ahead. It makes me think of the quote from J.R.R. Tolkien at the end of The Lord of the Rings when Gandalf says to the hobbits “Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” It also makes me remember the tears that fell after our last crew races those many years ago. It’s okay to shed some tears for it means you care. You have put your heart and soul into many years of dedicated ministry to the congregation at Westminster. You have, in accordance with the ability God has given you, done your best. I pray that you can find peace in that. I pray that you can trust God to continue on in his work at the church. I pray that the tears you shed are “good” tears. Tears that flow because you will miss your family at Westminster Pres. and the fellowship you’ve nurtured over the years. Tears which convey the love you feel that mere words don’t fully express.
I’m proud of you, my brother. You have done well through the challenges that life and ministry can bring. Now comes a time of rest, reflection, renewal, and re-creation.
I appreciate these words from my friend Greg – just as I appreciate the many words and expressions of gratitude from all of you. And I am slowly living into that final sentence from Greg above – Now comes a time of rest, reflection, renewal, and re-creation.
In Christ, Pastor Jim and Elizabeth Rauch