A Joyful Farewell
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Paul opens his letter to the Philippian church with this warm greeting of love, joy, and partnership. It is obvious that this church is special to him. His heart overflows in joyful prayer every time he thinks of them. One of the main reasons I chose to finish my ministry at Immanuel preaching through the book of Philippians is that my heart resonates with Paul’s heart for this church he loved so much. You, Immanuel, give me great joy when I think about our years together. It has been such a wonderful experience for me and my family to be part of the Immanuel family over the last six years. You have loved us so well! You have patiently helped me grow as a pastor and Rector. You have faithfully supported me, prayed for me, and encouraged me. You may not realize this, but not all pastors experience that kind of love and support. Paul didn’t experience that kind of support from all of his churches, either. That’s what made the Philippian church such a joy to him. That’s what makes you such a joy to me!
Yet what really fills my heart with joy is the partnership we have had in the gospel. Your support for me hasn’t been for me alone. It has been for the common work to which God has called us – sharing the life and love of Jesus with our community! What could bring more joy to a pastor’s heart than working with a church that loves God and loves their neighbors? As I leave, what brings me the greatest joy is the assurance that this work is just beginning. Paul’s encouragement for the Philippians is the encouragement that I will leave with you: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. God’s work in you and through you will continue because it is not my work or your work, but His work! It will be my great joy to watch and pray as the Lord continues to do his great work at Immanuel. I love you, Immanuel, and will miss you deeply!