Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. April 2022

What a beautiful day I was blessed with on Sunday. The opportunity to celebrate the day with my personal family, and my church family, and to receive the generous gifts was indeed special. So I say thank you to those who gave me a card, or a gift. Thank you to those who help prepare the meal, and those who set up and decorated. Thank you to those who came to worship and hear an On Beyond Zebra sermon. Thank you, to all of you who shared this day with me.

Also thank you for 27 years of serving, and doing a job that I have loved. There have been lots of changes since I came to Rochester with my wife and 3 young children. The stores and the restaurants are different. We didn’t use cell phones when I arrived. My computer was not state of the art, but none really were. Internet. On-line shopping. The preschool teachers have changed. The church leaders are younger now, and many of those who led when I came to town are enjoying heavenly blessings.

On Sunday during the dinner, I think many assumed that lots of people would get up and share stories. But, I think most of us were a little bit afraid of tears, and some sad feelings. Some things are just hard to do. Still, I believe when people are close in friendships and relationships, we often don’t need to “say it.” Those who know us well, already know how we feel. I believe we have all enjoyed some special bonds of love and experiences. I have been blessed to share in your weddings, and your graduations. Our children have grown up together. We have shared in the heartaches of lost loved ones. We have “grown older” together, and have marveled at God’s great grace.

The loss of a loved one is one of life’s toughest experiences. To say good-bye to an old friend can touch our hearts. So if we find ourselves going through some feelings of grief and loss– we’re just being normal. I still believe that “God is our refuge and strength. An ever-present help in trouble.” (Ps 46). So as we go through life’s changes we need to continually turn to our source of help and strength. It’s ok to cry some, and to feel some sadness. I know I will. However, sometimes we see God best when we are at those times of weakness. I am amazed at how the Lord moved and brought us here. I am astounded at His provision, and His many blessings. Jesus’ friends grieved His death until He rose again onSunday morning.

If He has done so much for us, I am confident that He is not finished yet. He has more to in mind for you and me. As I shared last Sunday, “in the places I go there are things that I see, that I never could spell if I stopped with the Z.” (Dr. Seuss)

So we are about to go “on beyond.” The God who has been with us will continue to be here. The One who died for us, also rose again to show us that there is life, and hope, and much more to come. So it’s ok to share times of grief. But, don’t forget what is still to come– God’s great plans.

The ladies sang one of my favorite songs last Sunday. “Give me Jesus,” was sung at my ordination service on May 28, 1978.
How fitting that it be sung again. But, the message is one I hope you and I will keep holding on to. We need Jesus. We need His salvation. We need His presence, and His forgiveness. We need the hope that only He can give. We have been a “Church with a Heart for Jesus.” So, may we continue the same way. He is Lord. He is good.

Blessings. I will be back to worship with you again.

Pastor Mark