My Dear Knox Family,
Life moves in circles, much like the spinning wheels on my bike. The wheels turn round and the bike moves forward. But you have given me the ride of my life.
On July 7th, 1999, you called Deb and me to serve as your co-pastors. On July 7th, 2019, the wheels turned round with another call from another congregation: First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest. It is the ride between these dates I wish to speak of: its beauty and richness, its joys and its sorrows, its summits and valleys, the grand vistas and the tough ascents. Most of all, I want to speak of someone who’s been pedaling alongside us saying, “I am with you—always.”
How can I say, “Thank you and good-bye?” I do not think that I can say it. After twenty years, aren’t you a part of all I am? So I will thank you with my smile. And I will thank you through my tears.
There has never been a time when I have doubted God’s call to you, the people of Knox. Yes, you can be impatient and impetuous at times, at other times skeptical and stubborn. But I have known you at your best: wise and resilient, compassionate and caring, diligent and determined, faithful and forgiving, generous and good-willed. I have watched you rise again and again to the upward call of caring for each other in sickness, trouble and sorrow. And I have seen you stoop to serve “the least of these” with humility, gentleness and enduring love. This is the church you have been. And this is the church you will be.
Gratitude doesn’t even begin to encompass the content of my heart as I prepare to leave Knox. Believe me when I say that I will never leave behind my love for you. I thank you deeply for your trust in me, your fashioning of my faith, your counsel and collaboration in grand times and in grim, for rejoicing in my joys and for your care in times of sorrow. For me and our family, you’ve done all these things and more.
I do not know the contours of the ride ahead. I do not know its hills and valleys. I cannot see around its bends. But this I do know: someone’s riding with me, and with the tandem bike I’ve now got hanging in our garage, Deb and I are going to latch onto his rear wheel and keep pedaling with all the heart, mind, strength and soul we’ve got. Christ will pull us on this upward way. And Christ will pull you, too.
Farewell, dear Knox! May God bless you and keep you and always hold you in Christ’s peace.