“Thank You, Beloved”

A Farewell Sermon for the People of Zion

Pentecost - June 9, 2019

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

West Walworth: Zion & East Rochester United Methodist Churches

 

Prayer.

 

Thank you, beloved, for the past 18 years.

 

It has been a profound, humble privilege to serve as your pastor,

To celebrate your births, baptisms, confirmation, and graduations;

To celebrate life’s defining moments - weddings, family gains and losses, hospital calls, caring for aging loved ones;

To be invited to the bedside vigil, anointing with oil,

Burying your dead, each with heartfelt eulogy and promise of resurrection.

 

Thank you, beloved.

 

You have blessed me with a ticklish, curious, creative spirit!

We’ve done amazing things together!

There is much for which I am thankful:

Nets, sails, portholes, and a pilate wheel;

Giant Goliath with a block just waiting to be knocked off;

And a giant blown up whale in the basement fellowship hall.

Live lambs, guide dogs, and model church buildings made of towering soup cans.

Names spoken, bells tolled, and lots and lots of creek water splashed:

Remember!

Remember your baptism!

Remember your baptism and be thankful!

Don’t you ever forget your baptism!

Remember, and be thankful!

 

Thank you, beloved.

 

Setting and decorating trees, candles and wreaths, producing pageants, displaying creches, placing poinsettias, and lighting Christmas Eve candles.

The glow of Christmas Eve on your faces will always be remembered.

 

Thank you, beloved.

 

Mardi Gras silliness and burying the “Alleluia” to the tune of “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In,”

Ash Wednesday soot, smudged in the shape of a cross,

Lenten small group studies and Passover meals.

Triumphant entries,

Holy Week readings of Passion and Death,

Foot washing and Holy Communion,

Good Friday sounds of nails being hammered into the cross in this sanctuary when it is cold and dark.

Easter sunrise, egg cake breakfast, and confirmations.

Resurrection!

 

Thank you, beloved.

 

For being able and willing receptacles

Allowing yourselves to be filled by the Holy Spirit,

A red-hot Pentecostal Holy Spirit,

Which we celebrate this day.

It is your fiber, your character, your DNA, your destiny

To bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world,

To bring the love of God and love of neighbor, near and far,

To break down every barrier that comes between ourselves and our God,

To naturally include one and all, without judgment,

Knowing full well we are all created in the near perfect image of God,

Knowing full well the blood of Jesus has washed us all clean,

Knowing full well that God loves the world,

The entire world.

 

Thank you, beloved.

 

Thank you for teaching me,

For walking with me,

As I have developed into a more complete servant leader;

For teaching me the value and the means of permission giving, as opposed to permission withholding;

For trusting in God’s call and

Trusting in my pastoral leadership,

Taking us sometimes into unknown and frightening places;

For teaching me about the joy of tithing and for being so very generous

In time, talent, and money;

For embracing the simplicity of church

Distilled down into four core, congregational  values:

Exceptional worship, music, prayer, and missional outreach. 

 

Thank you, beloved.

 

For collaborating with me on every bulletin, every hymn, every scripture passage, every celebration of Holy Communion;

For practice and rehearsals, Zion Youth Band, the choir and our back row shenanigans;

For taps in the cemetery, for special music, hymn sings, an occasional organ, and beautiful piano music;

For developing a model of prayer that encourages participation,

Daily engagement, ongoing acts of love;

For opening up to me the value of mission engagement that

Led me and some of us to Nicaragua and Guatemala.

I regret not taking part in earlier teams to the Gulf Coast,

But I thank you for sowing and planting God’s seeds within me

That grew and bloomed at later dates.

 

Thank you, beloved.

 

For the privilege of working together in shared pastoral ministry;

For teaching and mentoring me in ways that I couldn’t have ever imagined;

For insight, sensitivity, and fidelity

To the Gospel, exegesis, and preaching;

For exposing me to your networks of beloved, near and far,

And the grace given and received simply by

Playing with children and making friends.

 

Thank you, beloved.

 

For growing to share the same passion and love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I have.

I’d give up my right arm and my left eye to propagate the Gospel to all the world.

I will share God’s truth and message as revealed through the Gospel

All my living days, until I no longer have breath or pulse.

Apparently, you haven’t grown tired of my weekly laser focus on Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,

Nor of my efforts to relate the Good News to our lives

In meaningful, achievable ways.

Thank you for loving Jesus Christ as much as I do,

And your commitment to follow him all your days, too.

 

Thank you, beloved.

 

For loving and supporting my family;

For your natural, unconditional acceptance and love;

For your willingness to babysit, mentor, support, and care for both our sons;

For your Sunday school lessons, book studies, women’s mission work and CommUNITY turkey dinners.

Thank you for welcoming Cynthia like a sister and for being a stable church home, unlike anything either of us preacher kids had ever experienced in our lives.

 

Thank you, beloved.

 

For the sacred space of a jail cell, a hospital bed, a backyard picnic, quiet conversations on the back deck;

For confidence made and kept;

For the sacred stewardship of this altar, this font, this pulpit;

For making disciples of Jesus and teaching them the faith;

For loving God and loving neighbors; and

For being the Body and Blood of Christ, broken and shed

For the redemption and salvation of the world.

 

Thank you, dearly beloved.

God loves you, and so do I.

I always will, and so will God.

Amen.

 

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