My Beloved Friends and Family at Cornerstone Church,
How does one write their last newsletter article to a congregation that I hold so dear? All I can do is start by taking a moment to look back. Can you believe that it has been almost a year since I stepped in as your Interim Pastor? Even more, can you believe it’s been eight years since a young and eager couple joined Cornerstone with a vision to serve and commit to young people in our church and the community? Look at how young we (and all these youth) were:
I’ve been going down memory lane and have found some gems of photos from over the years. Photos from auctions and Mexico trips, from Friendsgiving as it quickly outgrew His Place, photos and videos of CSYG worship, pictures from Winter Camps and Lazy F, infinite coffee dates, lunches, “after-parties”, and meals together, pictures from my first baptism, years of interns, progressive dinners, my first sermon, the Sunday I began as Cornerstone’s Associate Pastor, and the first time I instituted communion. Then, of course, there are all the videos of our time worshipping together this last year. As I looked through those photos and videos, my heart swells with love and gratitude to this church, the community of believers that nurtured Jimmy and I’s call (both as individuals and collectively) to love and serve the church. You have been our church family, a family who has believed in us, supported us, raised us up, and prayed for us. Though we have experienced our share of turbulence as a church family, all that remains as I look through these photos is deep gratitude and thanks for all the ways you have challenged me and encouraged me to grow. Indeed, as many of you have affirmed, Cornerstone has offered Jimmy and I infinite opportunities to grow into who we are today. Words will never encapsulate our gratitude, but we are nonetheless very thankful.
As I thought about what I might focus on in my last month with you all, the Psalms were a fitting choice. In worship together, we are in our new series, Prayers for the Journey, where we are looking at the various types of Psalms found in the Psalter. Truly, it is prayer that has brought us through the journey of this last year. We have cried out to God in lament, we have continued to offer musical praise to the Lord in parking lots, cars, and from our couches (interestingly, Psalm 149 say, “Let the faithful exult in glory, let the sing for joy on their couches”), and we have continued to be thankful for God’s provision even in the wilderness. These have been our prayers for the journey, patterns of praise that I hope you will take with you in the journey ahead. Though we won’t have a week specifically on psalms of remembrance, I am struck by how often a psalmist will reference their past, both the difficult times when God’s presence was needed for their survival and the joyous times when God called his people into amazing adventures. In Psalm 77, it says this: “I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old. I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have displayed your might among the peoples. With a strong arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.”
What a beautiful reminder that we, as believers, are called to remember God’s provision, to call to mind the deeds of the Lord, the wonders of God. I look back on these past eight years and I have my own narrative of God’s faithfulness. When we started at Cornerstone, I couldn’t have imagined or envisioned how these eight years would go. When I had my first interview with SPR, I only committed to staying two years and I didn’t really think we would be here much beyond that time. When I started at the church, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be in Youth Ministry long-term, I had no aspirations of becoming a pastor or going to Seminary. I could not at all see that the future would hold (and to be fair, I still can’t). But God, in his powerful and spirit-filled way, put all of you in my life to call out giftings, offer encouragement, support me spiritually (and even financially – thank you!), and ultimately, to be a part of my psalm and prayer of remembrance. I feel like King David in 2 Samuel 7:18, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”. I could go on and on, but instead, I want to offer a challenge for each one of you: what is your prayer of remembrance? What is your psalm that recounts God’s mighty deeds and work, God’s wonder and redemption? What is Cornerstone’s song of remembrance? Folks, this is just another prayer that we need for the journey. As we step into a new season (Cornerstone with a new pastor and the Creeks with a new journey ahead), we should take that step while singing our songs of deliverance, redemption, and remembrance. These are songs of hope. They are songs of hope that the God who has brought us this far will continue to lead, guide, and protect us beyond where we are at today. This God, the one whose name we proclaim, this God is faithful, never-changing, constant through everything; this God is our hope, our firm foundation, our Cornerstone.
There will never be enough words to express my gratitude, but I will endlessly be singing my Psalm of Remembrance for the gift of my time at Cornerstone, my time with each one of you. Through you all, I’ve experienced God’s goodness, God’s call, and the wonderful power of our Lord. Amen and amen.
With an exceedingly grateful heart,