Pastor Mark’s eNote – An Overdue Thanksgiving Note
I’ve been meaning to say thanks for a while now, but, you know how it is, you get busy and Netflix releases a couple of new series, and fall church meetings kick in and a financial campaign, and Georgia Tech and the Falcons keep losing games they shouldn’t, and the dog needs to go out. You know, stuff happens. And so, as I’m sure you understand, I’m a little behind on my note-writing.
I’ve been meaning to thank you, actually, for the note you wrote me—the one commenting on the sermon and the one about the eNote and the one that was purely an act of grace, a note of care in a dissonant week. Thank you for that. Strange, isn’t it? I know how much that note meant to me, and yet here I am so late in writing this one. Remind me to preach on self-absorption.
And I meant to say thanks for that time in 1981, the first Sunday of my student appointment. I had preached something that walked down the street that borders the neighborhood of a sermon that morning and was pretty sure God had in fact called me to sell shoes or read meters or do pretty much anything but preach, and then that very night at the end of the Administrative Board meeting you said, “I just want to thank Mark for the sermon he preached this morning. I think we’re off to a good start.” And, for better or worse, I’m preaching still. Thank you.
And I thought about sending a note to you, my clergy friends, that would express my gratitude for the moments, but I had such high hopes for it that I couldn’t quite muster the energy to write it. I wanted to thank you that in a vocation that ironically fosters distance from one’s peers, I have friends who have shared the journey of 30 years. We’ve been jolted a couple of times, but there you are, friends still. Thank you.
And the other night I almost wrote you to say thanks for the amazing way you give yourself to the church. There you are sitting in a meeting, saying really wise things, after being about your own pressing business all day. And I wanted you to know that I noticed how you went to the hospital to check on the one from your Sunday School class when I happen to know you were hurting more than a little yourself. And there you were in the choir singing, and in the narthex greeting, and at the pantry serving, and off on a mission trip with your kids during the Thanksgiving break. And somehow in the midst of it all, you translate work into friendship and friendship into love and love into continual worship—what a gift. Thank you.
And I think of the two church members—different churches—on whose shoulders I cried. Did I thank you? And there is our babysitter, who now has babies of her own and who, amazingly, is still a part of our lives. You are a gift I have failed to acknowledge. And you, wise friend, whose light at the right moment lifted the darkness—I should have written long before now.
And I mentioned notes, but don’t think I have forgotten yours, written in five-year-old hand, and delivered on Sunday morning with a smile, “Dear Preacher Mark, I love you.” Would you have written the same had I chosen meter-reading instead? Knowing you, you most certainly would have. Thank you.
So, I gather them all, the notes I haven’t written, and offer them this week as a prayer. Maybe it’s the lazy way out, or maybe it’s the only way I can express the amazing grace you are to me. Either way, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.”