The days I secretly thought might never come are actually here. Tomorrow is my last service with the congregation I've served for nine years, nine wonderful years with only a few bad moments and always the support of my congregation.
Only a couple of folks have been obstreperous in any way that needed attention, which I deem incredible luck, as my previous congregation in Portland was a little harder to deal with---and I was a rookie at the time as well.
If pain and trouble taught me anything then, it resulted in my having a better idea of which hills were worthy of defending; which battles are worth fighting? which precious value must be preserved at all cost?
Knowing that so and so had scared a couple of people badly enough that they were uneasy about coming to church---that needed to be dealt with. And because of the integrity of the people involved and the people I consulted for help, we did a pretty good job of sorting out the truths and letting go of the rumors which were at the base of the trouble.
Knowing that another so and so had damaged the congregation so badly many years ago yet failed to understand or accept responsibility for the damage---that also needed to be dealt with when the person wanted to return to the congregation. And it was dealt with fairly and kindly, thanks again to the help of others in leadership.
So tomorrow I say goodbye and recount some of what I've learned. My theme song for ministry, all the years of it from call to retirement, has been the Sunday School hymn "I Would Be True". That will be the theme of tomorrow's sermon. Watch for it.