Every October is “Pastor Appreciation” month. (I don’t know who made that up but I like it!). Our church has a “tradition” of not observing this in October and waiting until November…or December. So this year when October came and passed I barely noticed that the congregation did not acknowledge or appreciate their pastors and families. Par for the course. I knew, that sometime before 2018 there would be a presentation of appreciation which is always very nice, generous and thoughtful. But I never imagined this!
After calling forward and acknowledging Pastor Dave and Kim and presenting them a gift of appreciation for the wonderful work they do at High Mountain, Armando Brunetti called myself and Susan forward to present our gift of appreciation. But what came next I never expected. The church was celebrating our 20 years of ministry at High Mountain. They presented us with a lovely and emotionally moving video of pictures from the last 20 years: (The video is attached above. Special thanks to Karen Vita for al the hard work and love that went into this); There were testimonies, words of gratitude and an encouraging message from Andy who I had asked to preach that morning but postponed until this week! Unplanned, our son James came forward and shared his heart which deeply moved ours. This was all followed by a luncheon of terrific food and sharing.
I couldn’t think of a more effective way to express our gratitude than to write about it in my weekly “Reflections.” Susan and I are still so touched and thankful to our entire church family for all the thoughtfulness, kindness and love that went into this day. As I said on Sunday, my “love language” is “Words of Affirmation” and “Touch” and you affirmed us in such a beautiful way and touched us so profoundly. And I can tell you, it is great to hear and receive the support before you die! (At funerals there are so many great testimonies for people who will never hear it).
As Thanksgiving is around the corner, it is appropriate to thank you in this open letter. So to our church family and friends who have supported us and walked this journey with us:
-Thank you for that wonderful celebration.
-Thank you for waiting for James to be able to make it and inviting Michael, Janine and Willie to be there and recording that message from Laura. That meant so much to us.
-Thank you for a luncheon that had very little cheese!
-Thank your for thinking to include a Bob Dylan song in that video.
-Thank you for letting us be your Shepherds for these last twenty years.
-Thank you for believing in us.
-Thank you for your support, generosity and care.
-Thank you for bearing with us through the mistakes and shortcomings.
-Thank you for teaching and guiding us.
-Thank you for being understanding and thoughtful.
-Thank you for trying new things.
-Thank you for letting us be ourselves and not trying to make us into something we are not.
-Thank you for giving us enough space to grow and mature and learn how to be a pastor and shepherd.
-Thank you for your patience.
-Thank you for your selfless giving…in finances, in time, in resources, in gifts and talents.
-Thank you for trusting your spiritual journey to us.
-Thank you for working under and alongside our leadership.
-Thank you for laughing and crying with us.
-Thank you for working through misunderstandings, disagreements and differences of opinion.
-Thank you for sharing in Church retreats, Christmas parties, worship services, game nights, Easter celebrations, Church picnics and baptisms, Bible studies, prayer groups, outreach events, mission trips, classes, special events and the whole gamut of things we do together throughout the years.
-Thank you for investing in us and our family. You taught, prayed for and loved Janine, Laura and James and watched them grow from children to outstanding young adults.
-Thank you for sharing in our journey from parenthood to grandparenthood. And thank you for all the concern, support and prayers for us and for Mike, Laura and Vinny as he made a very difficult entrance into this world. Those were difficult days and we are so glad that he is doing so well.
– Thank you for making us better people, stronger Christians and more effective leaders.
-Thank you for being willing to grow and change with us.
-Thank you for letting us baptize your babies, teach your children, marry you, and bury your loved ones.
-Thank you for allowing us to join you in life’s pains and celebrations.
-Thank you for those who have literally been with us from the beginning of our ministry and before. God has something special for you in heaven!
-Thank you to friends who have moved away, to those who are simply friends of ours through one connection or another and to those who no longer attend our church for one reason or another. You all are part of the great history and mosaic of HighMountain.
-Thanks to so many of our good friends who have gone home to be with the Lord. My heart still aches for each one. You are missed.
-Thank you to the new people in our church who have no idea about half the things I write about. Stick around.
-Thank you to Doc and Joy, to Diane and others who made a special effort to be there on Sunday.
-Thank you High Mountain Church. There is no place that I would rather be or church that I would rather be the pastor of. I told God when I took the pastorate here that I only felt a call to High Mountain and nowhere else so if He had other ideas He should tell me up front. He never said anything. We have shared a special journey and my inadequate expressions of gratitude will have to suffice for now. Words truly cannot express the emotions of our hearts. On behalf of Susan and myself,…We love you….Thank you.
What do you think? How does it make you feel?