Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. – Philippians 1:3-7
Note to whoever is reading this morning (friends; family; church members; casual readers; blog-surfers, Russian hackers…): This past weekend is going to take a while to process; Sunday was simply too much. So I believe there will be ripples of all the beauty, the love, the wonder, the generosity, the light, the grace, and the promise continually washing up on the shore of my heart and soul likely for weeks to come.
So today will be a brief overview. And I will rely more on pictures than words because, well, I really don’t have the words yet.
But I would recommend watching the Livestream Video of yesterday’s 10:30 worship. That way you will hear Rebekah’s final sermon in this “Top-Ten” series, and you will get to experience some of the wonderful songs shared by Kim Glasscock’s incredibly talented team of musicians.
9:00 worship. The tree-planting ceremony. 10:30 worship. The retirement luncheon. I could do an entire post on the flowers alone! It was all beautiful. But I got most of my crying out of the way during early church, when the Praise Team sung the contemporary, “The Lord bless you… and keep you….” Other, that is, than some more tears when the men sang “Be thou my vision.” Oh, and I leaked some as Rebekah offered the benediction. And then just a few more sniffles when I had the opportunity to speak at lunch.
And maybe now too, thinking of the enormity of it.
But what – and I’m thinking out loud here – about the enormity of the carryover that is the accumulated, cumulative blessing of these most remarkable four decades?
Love like this does not dissipate with the stroke of a retirement document. Love actually, by its very nature, grows and replicates. This is the heart of the Good News, and the substance of Christ’s most central mandate: “Love each other in the same way I have loved you!”
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” – John 15:9-12
We were blessed to hear from several gifted voices in Rebekah’s history.
Frank Beall – senior pastor when we were at Trinity in Pensacola – may not have been able to come, but Marianne Evans from Brandon read the words he wanted to share. Bruce McVey – now a pastor in Tennessee – spoke to Rebekah’s tenure in Brandon. Ted and Moffett Churn represented the Presbytery of New Hope. Krista Fuller MC’d and – along with the original pastor search team – offered words from WFPC. Pastor John prayed with grace and eloquence. Elder Jay Joyner lent his voice as well.
And the generosity! This church has not only gifted us – daily – with so much of themselves every single moment for eight years, but WFPC showered Rebekah with such imaginative and creative gifting at the luncheon.
This quilt, representing “Women of the Bible,” is just one example of the hard work and love and time poured into Sunday’s goodbyes.
But it is not only WFPC Rebekah is retiring from, it is her long, cutting-edge career as a full-time pastor.
So I will leave it here for today. With so much more to share in the days to come. Here are a few photos from worship; I will share the reception/luncheon tomorrow.
I can’t begin to communicate the depth of the love and the wonder and the gratitude. – DEREK