Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

A Somewhat Unremarkable Photo of Saltgrass Growing by the Gulf of Mexico | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

If I begin the sentence, “This is most certainly…” most people who have been through Lutheran confirmation classes will be able immediately to fill in the missing word: “true.” Martin Luther (the 15th century monk who ignited the Protestant Reformation) in his catechism ended the explanation to each of the three articles of the Apostle’s Creed, with the words, “This is most certainly true.”

He meant to emphasize that the confession of faith we make, using those words are core and foundational to the Christian faith, and that there can be no doubt about those teachings on the part of Christians throughout the world. In fact the Apostle’s Creed is one of three Ecumenical Creeds, that is confessions of faith that are embraced by Christians in Protestant, Orthodox, Roman Catholic churches. Even those who are not in churches that acknowledge the creeds will most likely embrace all the teachings expressed in these creeds.

All these teachings come from the Bible, the Prophetic and Apostolic Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Now here is why I offer the title of this post in a manner that makes this point: The Genesis 2:24 passage is true. It’s in the Bible. It’s God’s word. Clear. Profound. True. 

But wait, there’s more! This passage is repeated word, for word, in Matthew 19 and Ephesians 5. If something is in the Bible once, it’s true. If it’s there twice, it’s certainly true. And if three times it’s found, it is most certainly true! 

God’s design for marriage is offered here: Leaving, holding fast, and becoming one. For one to be married he has to cut the apron strings, be independent from his parents, and able to make his own decisions. Today this applies also to women. She must be able to make her own decisions, be defined apart and independent from her parents. Only then can one hold fast to another. When one holds fast to his wife and a wife to her husband, a powerful partnership is formed and found. 

For many this is the long term challenge. We are so easily distracted. We too easily see only the green grass on the other side of the fence and miss the weeds, or ignore the fact that our neighbor spends much more time, energy, and money on making the grass green! We see only the fantasy lover and not the dishes to be done, the sick days, or the bad moods that come upon all people living in a fallen world.

Tomorrow we’ll consider the becoming one facet of marriage. It’s vital and essential to marriage in the fullest sense. And it is richer and ever more delightful when we enter into it from the first two elements outlined here. In fact, each of these three facets of marriage bolsters the other. It’s easy to focus on the most obvious joy or problem in seeking to enrich our marriage relationships. But all three need nurture: Clear self-definition (leaving), deep commitment, and intimate connection. This is most certainly true. 

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. – Genesis 2:18-25

And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.” – Genesis 2:22-23

The Hope of Things to Come | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

“Ish? Ish?? Ish…Ishah!!! That’s how my seminary professor described Adam’s reaction to the first wedding ceremony ever. God is bringing the bride down the garden path to her husband-to-be. The groom is anticipating the arrival of his bride. And when the moment comes, Adam is delighted. The Hebrew poetry makes that clear, and so my professor’s imaginary first encounter between man and woman would reflect that.

The Hebrew word for man is “ish” and the word for woman is “Ishah.” Adam has been through a time of searching and learning that the animals, even man’s best friend, are no substitute for what he really needs. He needs a partner. He needs someone who knows what it’s like to be a living being. He needs a counterpart: the same, but different. So as he’s awakening from his deep sleep and in the post surgery grogginess, he sees something, someone. Very much the same, but delightfully different.

There is something magical in the attraction between a man and a woman. Sadly, however, that magic has been tainted by sin, and in our fallen world it is not always what it should be. But for a moment, perhaps we can imagine that special, holy, magical moment when Eve first met Adam. And in imagining it seek to capture a bit of it in our marriage relationships. 

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. – Genesis 2:18-24

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  – Genesis 2:18

Sea Shell Shadow | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

(The full Genesis 2 text is available below)

I’ve confessed previously that I enjoy batching it whenever Diane travels for work or to see family…for a few days. My friend told me that he liked it too, when his wife was gone…until he ran out of TV shows or movies he wanted to watch. We men are a self-centered lot. 

I remember one occasion a few years ago that I was feeling really quite ill. I called Diane, who was visiting family at the time, and bemoaned my illness. I had a fever. I ached. I really felt like I had been hit by a Mac truck. Her response was less caring or sympathetic than I had hoped for. I was very disappointed, and had to struggle through it. It was truly not good to be alone.

I’d have to allow, however, that Diane did not realize how really sick I was. I think, in retrospect, that I was having a gall bladder attack. And my experience of her response is greatly clouded by my illness. And there was little she could do in that moment from 1,000 miles away. So, please do not hear me throwing her under the bus! She’s a wonderful helpmate, partner in ministry and a compassionate woman of God. The experience simply illustrates how it is not good for the man to be alone. 

That took place in the context of life in a fallen world. Fallen people experiencing the effects of the fall into sin. Listen, however, as God makes the pronouncement, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” And take note: This pronouncement comes to man in a sinless state and in a pristine world. Perfect. Not fallen. No brokenness. And on the day that would ultimately be called good, there is a moment where it is not good.

Man is incomplete without woman. When God brings animals to the man, even his best friend will not do. No suitable helper is to be found for him. And since the animals have been created – presumable already male and female – it seems clear that God is trying to teach man a lesson. An important lesson. We’re no good solo. 

I realize there are exceptions. Jesus says as much (Matthew 19:10-12). But it is quite another thing to believe we can simply go it alone. God designed man to be needy. He designed man to need a helper. And I am thankful for Diane. God brought her into my life and she is my helper, partner, wife, and a faithful woman of God. It’s not good for this man to be alone, and that has much more to do than being bored because I’m bored with my TV or eating choices. 

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. – Genesis 2:18-24

Selected verses from Psalm 21; 51; 81; 111; 141 for your meditation and edification on this Lord’s Day

Psalm 21:13

Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!
    We will sing and praise your power. 

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Psalm 81:1-3

Sing aloud to God our strength;
    shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
Raise a song; sound the tambourine,
    the sweet lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
    at the full moon, on our feast day.
 

Psalm 111:1-2

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
    in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
    studied by all who delight in them. 

Psalm 141:1-2

Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!
    Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
    and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” – Genesis 2:15-28

Shell and its Shadow | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

When Diane used to travel more, I would enjoy the first two or three days of her absence. I could watch the movies I wanted. I could eat what I wanted. I could chart my own course. But I quickly would quote Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Of course the context is quite different. The gift of a godly wife helped me in many different ways – companionship, healthier choices, and better use of time.

At the end of each day of creation God assessed his work, “and it was good.” But here on the day God created man and woman, there was a time when it was not good. This is a remarkable statement. This isn’t a pronouncement about whether or not it was complete, or finished. This is a moral judgment. This is in the immediate context of the presence of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This was a not-good moment – before Adam and Eve’s rebellion and the fall into sin. 

This reveals something about our created state. Man is not complete by himself. God designed us to need another. And we will see how this is resolved in the following verses. The fact remains: There are good and evil times and events. And God assesses these all. We may think we know what is good. We may be quite convinced of our judgment. We may even be tempted toward calling good something that we really desire. But all that is a foolish pursuit. Better we allow God to determine what is good and what is evil, and thank him that he (alone) is good (cf. Mark 10:18).

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

Genesis 2:10-14
Still Casting a Shadow | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

Where’s your favorite place? Mountains? Seashore? Lake? Hill Country? Back yard? If you could pick the ideal place to be, where would it be? Imagine it now. As I think about it, I would be tempted to describe it in terms of what it is not. Not cold. Not diseased. Not quarantined. Not without electricity, or otherwise not in need of electricity. On the positive side: warm, peaceful, and beautiful. With many beautiful vistas and photographic opportunities. 

I imagine the Garden of Eden was all that and more. No need for electricity. No need for electronics or diversions. No need for AC or heat. The perfect balance of dietary delights. Well-watered. The Master Gardener’s magnum opus. Prepared for man and woman to tend, subdue, and enjoy. 

This place, the source of four rivers, the garden, is center stage of the curtain of history. This is the place where all will unfold, and to which we will all One Day return in a new and better way. This is Paradise. It points us toward a deeper appreciation of the physical side of life and body.

Some Christians make little of the body. They speak of the immortality of the soul which can actually detract from the true teaching of the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come. But this is our hope. Jesus is preparing a place for us that we may be with him forever. Even on the cross he promised the repentant thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

But here we are. We’re in a fallen world, rife with sin, sickness, natural and man-made disasters. When we build our homes, and make them as comfortable as we are able, we’re revealing a deeper yearning of which we are too often not aware. Whatever yearning of our hearts and souls may be, they will never find fulfillment apart from God. His great delight is toward those who take their rightful place in his eternal kingdom: his new heaven and earth.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. – Genesis 2:5-9

Shadows of a Once-Beautiful Shell | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

We were in the college philosophy class where I had been very up front about my Christian faith. Two guys in particular decided to take me on. One chided me for believing Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 about not worrying about tomorrow, “for tomorrow will have enough trouble of its own.” He dismissed it out of hand as futile and foolish. I was amazed that anyone would be so bold in rejecting any of Jesus’ teachings. Silly and innocent me.

The other challenger hit me with, “You believe the Genesis account of creation?” “Yes I do,” I replied. “Well then how come there are two different accounts? One where man is made after the plants and the other before?” 

I didn’t know what to say. I had not studied that carefully enough, so I was stuck without an answer. I later asked my pastor about this and he showed me that Genesis 2 is a recapitulation of the sixth day of creation, and that the reference about no plants growing is specifically about the garden itself. 

God is setting the stage for the Divine Drama that is soon to unfold. This is preparing the stage for the moment that the “Oops” will become “Ugh.” 

A typical drama will unfold in this manner (Thanks to Gene Lowery, The Homiletical Plot):

  • Oops! Something is not quite right here.
  • Ugh. There’s a real problem here. 
  • Aha! Maybe there is a way out.
  • Whee! The hero did it. We’re saved!
  • Ahhh. A time of reflection on the good result.

Things are getting set for the OOPS. It’s already clear that there’s going to be an oops, when we read about the presence of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These two trees will come into play by the end of Genesis 3. And though the stage is only being set, be sure of this: there will be trouble. But there is a tree of life. Even is there is a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

My encounter with those two skeptics in my college philosophy class was an “oops” moment. It became an “ugh” moment when I realized I needed to be more savvy to satan’s ways and means. That’s a lesson I’m still learning. And I’m thankful that the end of the story is one of joy and celebration. The drama will unfold. It will take centuries to play out, but the end will result in the praise of God’s glorious grace. Mine included. Yours?

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. – Genesis 2:1-4

Seashell | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

I believe that God created the world in what might be best understood as six 24-hour days. He could have taken six seconds to do the work and still have it be very good. I have no need, either to lengthen the “days” spoken of in Genesis 1 to epochs or eons of time: six trillion years, for example. I am intrigued, nonetheless, in the use of the word, “day” in 2:4. Here it seems to refer not to a 24 hour period of time, but to an event or work in a fixed moment. 

Again, just to be clear, I believe the days of Genesis 1 refer to six 24-hour periods of time. But more important to me than fixing the number of hours or the length of the days, is the fact that God created the earth and the heavens. This is his world. We are living on his turf. If he wants to, he can say – like Harrison Ford in the movie Air Force One – “Get off my planet!” He is the creator. We are the creature. We are accountable to him. 

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
10 Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”

11 Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
12 I made the earth
and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host. – Isaiah 49:9-12

I think of Job hearing from God, 

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy? – Job 38-4-7

This is no fairy tale. This is not a fanciful fable. “These are the generations of…” is a significant term that sets the stage of the whole book of Genesis. These “generations” are headings or sometimes footnotes to peoples and events recorded in Genesis that vividly [reveal] the cultural scenes and historical accuracy of the narrative. They also clearly illustrate the development of writing and the written preservation of events and transactions (The Generations of Genesis). 

Most faithful, Bible-believing Christians will not bristle at these issues. We believe that the Bible’s accounts are true and reliable. And these generations provide a clue to the various epochs and narratives that form the narrative accounts of this book. The care, rhythm, planning, and clear purpose for creation that is provided for us will point us to the God who has made us and all that exists and still cares for us from day to day.

This day has been an object lesson of that reality. From a power outage that started at 2:30 AM during record-breaking freezing cold, to frustration’s relief when I was able with God’s help and Diane’s encouragement, to start our generator, to relief and appreciation for electricity that is now restored: I was reminded not to take things for granted – whether it is turning on a light, or turning up the temperature. All this ultimately goes to God’s design of an orderly universe that suffers when evil intrudes. 

But this is also the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Who knows what it will bring?

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. – Genesis 2:1-14

Seashell and its Shadow | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

I remember learning about the Fertile Crescent in high school. I recall that it was considered the cradle of civilization. It is located in the middle east, and is identified by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. I might be able to draw some inferences about that. And I suspect that since those simpler days, there may have been other theories about the cradle of civilization and all that. 

In this account of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth the Tigris and Euphrates as well as the Pishon and Gihon Rivers are mentioned. There is little doubt about the location of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. And it is most likely that the Gihon River refers to the Nile River. The Gihon River is less clearly identified. But at the mouth of these four rivers was located a beautiful garden from which all civilization, life, and a Divine Drama unfolded. 

It is as though God was setting up the stage in Genesis 1. He then rests. And then he lets the drama begin. It is difficult for me not to rush ahead with further details of the drama. There are so many twists and turns in its plot. What seems at once to be the ideal setting soon becomes a place of rebellion and shame. What begins as a family story of two brothers quickly becomes a murder non-mystery. Giants roam the earth. Evil worsens. God saves 8 people and sets a rainbow in the sky. And this is just the first 9 chapters of this incredible book!

Look with me now at the opening verses of this chapter. God is resting. He is finished with creation. All is very good. He has accomplished his first task. I wonder why God rested. I’m guessing he was not tired – at least in the sense that I get tired after a day of labor. I’m guessing he wasn’t trying to catch his breath. Nor was he, I think, pondering his next move. It seems to me that God is confirming and establishing the rhythm of evening and morning, and work and rest. As a side note, it is interesting to me that Adam and Eve’s first day of life would have been a day of rest. 

I’ve spent much of my life “running to a rest.” I even commented on that to a friend several years ago. I go, go, go, until I drop. And to some extent these early days of retirement are much the same. I feel a bit like I’ve run a marathon over the last 40 years. I’m thankful to hand the baton to the new senior pastor at St. John. I’m thankful that I don’t have to prepare for meetings, get up before 5 AM on Sunday mornings, or attend to the business aspects that used to accompany my calling.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a Jesus follower. I still am called to love my neighbor. I still pray for my friends and family, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and the Church throughout the world. Nor do I resent the challenges that went with the leadership opportunities I’ve had over the years. But, unlike God, I’m resting because I’m tired, and ready to enter a different chapter of life. 

But I still miss the opportunity to think of and plan for new series of messages and studies. I sometimes have a nagging feeling I’m missing a meeting or failing to plan for something that is my responsibility. And I really do look forward to the time in May when I will begin working part time for the Texas District of the LCMS. There are even potential opportunities for further work with PLI in Tanzania and Kenya. 

But for now, I’m taking a page from God’s book (literally!). I’m resting. And I’m resting in anticipation of new and more opportunities to serve and lead. My mission is to help people and churches discover Jesus’ plan and purpose. I want to prepare well for doing that. And so I rest in anticipation of the fertile opportunities God will lay before me in the coming years. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021 was my last Sunday as Senior Pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas. Saturday, February 13, 2021 the church hosted a retirement celebration event. It was a great and delightful blessing. Thank you St. John!

Diane and I have been blessed to have served in Utah and Colorado (4 years), Arkansas (10 years), and Texas (Arlington, 11 years, and St. John, Cypress 16 years) over the past four decades. We have been deeply enriched by the people God has sent our way through those times. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and have needed the grace, love, and forgiveness of those we have served. We has also sought to give that same grace, love, and forgiveness we have received from God. 

We received very generous financial gifts from members of the congregation as well as kind and gracious well wishes and lasting tokens of love in the form of artwork, and other gifts. We are truly thankful for all these things. Most of all we are thankful to God for bringing us to St. John, for providing opportunities to serve and lead here, and for the many experiences of love and grace we have had.

To all who sent cards and letters, thank you. To all who provided gifts of various kinds, thank you. To all who helped make yesterday possible, thank you. To God who considered us faithful and allowed us to serve, thank you. 

At the end of the celebration I was offered the opportunity to speak. Diane spoke first, and shared her heart of thankfulness and love for the people of God at St. John. I quoted from Romans 12:9-12. This is my prayer for the people of God at St. John.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

 

Quilt given by the Dorcas Guild on the occasion of our retirement celebration | February 13, 2021