A Triumphant Final Sunday
4:42 PM My email address will not change for the moment. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. When I get a new email address in a few weeks, mail will be automatically forwarded to my new address. I do plan to continue sending out the weekly sermons by email, but after I send out the sermon from yesterday, I'm going to take a break until we move to Mississippi.
4:40 PM Greetings to everyone who has been reading my daily weblog at the Pastor Ray page on the Calvary website. Since that weblog ended today, I'll be doing my daily updates on the Crosswalk weblog. When we launch a new weblog for my personal entries, I'll let you know.
6:55 AM A personal request for those who attended the farewell reception. If you took digital pictures last night, would you send us copies via email? We'd love to have them as memories to take with us when we move. Send them to: email@example.com.
6:52 AM Update from Mark in China. He stayed up late (12:30 AM-2 AM) and watched the third service live via the Internet:
Yeah I was able to watch the whole third service without a problem. It was real, real good. Certainly as emotional there as it was over here. I was quite happy to have that ability. Thank God for technology. Thanks for the third service shout out. I'm surprised I was able to watch all I was able to watch. I thought you did a great job all around with it.
I hope the farewell reception goes well. I can still remember our welcoming reception. The church gave us boys something like pizza Frisbees and we played out in front of the dining room on the lawn while people met you and mom. It only seems fitting that your tenure would end in the same manner, minus the Frisbees but with multiplied gratitude.
6:44 AM Tons of people have asked about my weblog and the sermon email list. I'll have more info on that later today.
6:42 AM Today happens to be my birthday (53). It is also the first day in over sixteen years when I did not wake up as a pastor. That's a strange feeling. I take comfort in all the people who said they were excited to see how God will lead us in the future. We know this is what we should be doing. And where it will all lead is a mystery to us.
6:39 AM This morning our house is a jumble of cards, gifts, notes, an incredible poster from the Horizons Class with a pull-out insert with pictures summarizing our sixteen years at Calvary. So many people gave us sweets that we're sending some of it back to Samford with Nick.
6:38 PM The choir came in about 7 PM to sing "Embrace the Cross" (one of our favorites). Then elders, deacons, deaconesses, and all the pastors came and laid hands on us and prayed for us. The choir then sang a beautiful benediction based on Ephesians 3:14-21. Tears came as we listened to our wonderful choir for the final time.
6:34 PM Around 700 people came to the farewell reception last night. Special thanks to Mari Burda and her crew for working overtime to produce such a feast. And thanks also to Cliff for setting up and emceeing the program--and for telling people to "keep it moving." The line waiting to greet us stretched out the Dining Room, into the hallway, and back into the portico. I hugged more people last night than I've ever hugged in my whole life. I think I was touched more by the children than by anything else. They came up, hugged us, and in a few cases, I picked up the little ones and spun them around in my arms.
6:33 AM Both in the morning and the evening, people came up to me and said, "I came to Christ under your ministry" or "You led me to Jesus." In many cases, I did not know the people. It was entirely the work of the Spirit.
6:29 AM Yesterday was amazing. A few other words come to mind. Overwhelming. Inspiring. Moving. Marlene and I picked out the hymns and the choir special in the traditional service. When we started singing "And Can it Be" and "Crown Him With Many Crowns," tears came and I felt as if I would not be able to preach at all. Later the choir sang one of Marlene's favorite songs, John Rutter's "Be Thou My Vision." We ended all the services by singing "A Mighty Fortress," the great Reformation hymn by Martin Luther. I closed my sermon by asking the congregation to "meet me in heaven." Even though it was my final day as pastor, the mood all morning was more triumphant than sad as we celebrated the goodness of God.