Some of you are old enough to remember Art Linkletter’s segments on “Kids say the Darnedest Things.” I thought you might enjoy these letters children wrote to their pastors:
Dear Pastor, Please say a prayer for our Little League team. We need God’s help or a new pitcher. Thank you. Alexander. Age 10, Raleigh
Dear Pastor, My father says I should learn the Ten Commandments. But I don’t think I want to because we have enough rules already in my house. Joshua. Age 10, South Pasadena
Dear Pastor, Who does God pray to? Is there a God for God? Sincerely, Christopher. Age 9, Titusville
Dear Pastor, Are there any devils on earth? I think there may be one in my class. Carla. Age 10, Salina
Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished. Ralph, Age 11, Akron
Dear Pastor, How does God know the good people from the bad people? Do you tell Him or does He read about it in the newspapers? Sincerely, Marie. Age 9,
In place of a sermon this morning, I wish to talk with you about a matter concerning our life together in our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the 17th of April 1994, the Third Sunday of Easter, we began our life together as Rector and Parish. The more than 25 years since then have flown by and in some ways have passed in the twinkling of an eye. Nevertheless, just as our Lord called our family to Redeemer that spring of 1994, so I believe our Lord now is calling Linda and me to move into that estate in life known as retirement. I have notified Bishop Smith that my last day as your Rector will be the 4th of January 2020.
I have come to this conclusion, as I am nearing retirement age, for several reasons. We will have finished the building of our new Christian formation center by the end of this year, and I needed to see that project completed before I retire. It was important, also, that I leave at a time when the parish is strong in membership and involvement; financially; and with an excellent staff in place. Since Fr. Charleston and Fr. Chris are staying, I am confident that the parish will not be weakened by my leaving and should continue to grow in every way. I believe that after I am gone all of the things you love about Redeemer will go on just like before. Finally, Linda and I would like to have more time with our family, now that we have a granddaughter, and to be able, God willing, to do some of the things retired people do.
As I look back over the past two and a half decades, much has been accomplished, but what I have treasured the most and will always treasure are the day in, day out realities of parish life: celebrating the Mass, preaching, teaching, baptizing, marrying, hearing confessions, ministering to the sick and shut-in, and burying the departed. Ministering the Body of Christ to you for almost every Sunday for 25 years means more than words can express. Being with you in times of joy and sorrow, giving spiritual direction and counsel in times of challenge and crisis, have been such a great honor. My hope has always been that I would be an instrument of God’s grace and peace, but always I come away from my times with you and your loved ones feeling the most blessed. And, of course, the relationships that have been built over the years will always be a wonderful blessing.
There’s a phrase in one of our prayers that refers to the Church as a fellowship of love and prayer. When you get right down to the basics, that’s what our life together in Christ is—a fellowship of love and prayer. That’s why you all mean so much to me, because of the love of Jesus Christ that has bound us together. And that, of course, is what will be the difficult part of retirement. I will miss the constant, varied expressions of that love on a daily basis. The good part is that the love and prayer really will remain. It just won’t be as intense, because we will be in a different relationship.
The Church of the Redeemer has been a bulwark of faith and a beacon of hope for many generations. Not only do we have a professional staff that is second to none, but also we have a virtual army of dedicated volunteers who will continue after I am gone. A change in rectors can be a time of anxiety, but it can also be a time of excited anticipation, to see what wonderful new things God is going to do. The good news is that God knows who your next Rector will be. Your Vestry will just need some time to discern who that priest will be!
The strength of Redeemer being what it is, my hope is that you will see this time of transition as a time of excited anticipation. Linda and I will still be around, because we plan to keep our home in Sarasota.
During the next few months, plans for the immediate future will be communicated by the Sr. Warden, Mr. William Mudgett. Be assured of our continued and abiding love for all of you and for Church of the Redeemer.
I have one favor to ask of you. I’d like for all of our people who come to Mass this weekend to hear this news from me, and not from social media or from those who attend an earlier Mass. So, if you could refrain from telling your friends until after Sunday Morning, I would be grateful.
God bless you.
Sermon preached by the Rev. Fredrick A. Robinson
Church of the Redeemer
17th Sunday after Pentecost
6 October 2019