In the midst of everything else going on in the life of the church – decking the halls for Advent, a Worship Festival on Sunday, stewardship commitments – Sunday will be Jean VanderWoude’s last with us before she moves to Dallas to be closer to her sister.
I give thanks for Jean’s life with us, for all the ways she has shared her faith at Western. A few weeks ago I spent some time with her in her home, surrounded by beautiful things collected during her time in the foreign service, and realized how that time shapes the beautiful spirit she shares with the world. We are going to miss Jean and all of the many ways she has served here.
I also give thanks for those of you who wanted to honor her time here, for you who have been her friends and companions on her journey of faith. You have reminded me of Western at our best, in the supportive bonds that you have formed over the years, circles of friendship into which I am a relative latecomer. This Sunday, we’ll all have the chance to say good-bye to Jean, thanks to you.
This Sunday, we’ll also be talking about Western’s future. I want us to hold on to this blessing of a tradition of friendships, and consider what it takes to help make them grow in the future. You’ll have a chance to look at items from a strategic practical vision, to consider what it means to live and grow faithfully here at Western in the foreseeable future, and to prioritize for yourself where and how you want to be involved. You will also have the opportunity to consider your own financial commitment.
Even as we say good-bye to Jean, she has given another gift in a tradition of faithful friendship here at church. May our church’s life continue to honor her, and the God at work in her, no matter where she goes! God be with you, Jean.