This is going to be personal this week, if you will allow me that indulgence. Thank you from the top, the bottom, the insides and the outsides of my heart. The celebration that this parish threw for my birthday last Sunday was nothing short of amazing. I am deeply grateful, beyond my ability to express appropriately. I cannot believe that many of you (parishioners, staff, the kayak shop, MY WIFE) managed to do all that and keep it all totally a secret. That could not have been quickly or easily done, and i am so touched by the lengths and depths of your effort, time, and energy. While it's hard to say exactly what the best part of it was - there were so many - i have to say my favorite may have been the irony of what i said to you at announcements. In case you weren't there, i'll recap for you.
I told you about a conversation i'd had with a perspective new member who would soon be moving with her husband from Ohio. I relayed to you that i had bragged about you to her, saying, i'd never seen a congregation with the kind of warmth and tenderness i'd found here at St. Michael's. I then pointed out to you that i had set the bar pretty high for you and expected you to clear it. Of course, then i walked in Patton Hall and saw just what you had done. It seems no matter where the bar is set, y'all just pole vault right over it.
Of course, we do have a word that perfectly describes what y'all pulled off last week; that word is love. It's what makes me so extraordinarily thankful to be a part of this community - to see how you love one another. We are not perfect, but i have no desire to be in a perfect church - there wouldn't be any place for me in it. But what we are is loving, in all our glorious and wonderful imperfection, and as the ancient hymn reminds us, "Where true charity and love are found, there God truly dwells."