“Grace and Peace”
One of the things I enjoy most about being your pastor is preaching. Just about every week, I get to dig into the Holy Word, listen to the hearts of people, and try to make connections where God’s Word touches people’s hearts and minds. Most of the sermons I have preached have been forgotten, or (I’d like to think) absorbed into the recesses of our souls. But some of them I still remember.
I remember my first sermon at St. Stephen’s. It was called “Grace to You and Peace.” As I look back over these seven years, that sermon title comes to mind as a way of encapsulating my experience. You have graciously received me as your pastor, have graciously tried new things to reach new people, have graciously repeated time-honored ways to deepen our lives in the Lord, and have graciously practiced the week-in, week-out habits of radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission, and extravagant generosity to advance the mission of Christ and His Church. Thank you for the grace you have offered me.
Together, we have experienced God’s grace working in us and through us as we have received Christ as the key to life, reflected Christ as the catalyst for community, and relayed Christ as the call for a new generation. God’s grace has seen us through the Great Recession, blessed us with a 50th anniversary milestone, and helped us to reach many more people, more young people, and more diverse people. I rejoice in the Lord’s grace as I see the fruit of many seeds coming to blossom.
God’s grace is always better than we deserve, and my time at St. Stephen’s has been a season far better than I expected. I thank our Lord and I thank you. As it comes time now for me to say good-bye and move on, I want you to know that I will miss you. I will pray for you. And I will appreciate your prayers for me as I embrace this new calling in the ministry of superintendency and the steep learning curve that lies ahead.
You will be receiving a very gifted pastor with a great love for God and people and a deep heart of joy in the Gospel. I know God will continue to raise up fruitful ministry, loving fellowship, and adventurous mission, as you receive her with grace and peace
“To all of you, God’s beloved, who are called to be saints: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7)
Celebrating Pastor Jeff
Please join us for a Farewell Luncheon for Pastor Jeff
Time: 12:15 p.m., Sunday, June 15
Location: Fellowship Hall
What: Light lunch and cake
RSVP to the Church Office, 703-978-8724 or firstname.lastname@example.org, NLT June 7th