Dear Andrew Chapel United Methodist Church:
I want to admit something to you that I admitted to the Senior High Sunday School class last Sunday: I’m a hideous crier. When I cry, it’s generally a full body, sobbing, sniffling convulsion. Thus it’s easier for me, and for you, not to see that. So I’m doing this in an open letter to you so that I won’t choke up in saying it out loud.
It has been good to be a part of your ministry here. At rare times during the
day late night/early morning when cars are speeding by, it is a blip on their radars as they hustle on Route 7. It’s hard to catch a glimpse from this major thoroughfare what’s happening back behind those pines and shrubs. But you know. And now I know too. And in that short two year glimpse, I’ve got several thank yous to share.
Firstly, ACUMC is passionate about children. It’s passionate in a quiet, unpretentious way. It’s the silent slipping out of workers to lead Children’s Stories on Sundays. It’s the unassuming way the Boy Scout/Girl Scout leaders go about their mentoring business. It’s the fine job the preschool does with the wee little tots. It’s the “really, you’ve been doing Sunday School that long???” dedication of our Sunday School leaders. Thank you.
Speaking of dedication, the parents of the youth have been a dedicated bunch by cajoling, wheedling, coercing, beating (just kidding), and bribing their youth to hang out with me and others on Sunday nights. Thanks for your efforts parents, legal and illegal, in getting them here. Thank you for the suppers you brought, the miles you drove, and the lessons you reiterated around your dining room table and around the baseball diamond. Thank you.
I’ve been moved by how diverse you are. With missional efforts all over Northern Virginia, you can be seen at Food for Others, Stop Hunger Now, and Alzheimer’s Cafe. Unassumingly, you garden and spreading the proceeds to the needy in our community. You are quietly delivering food locally, filling trailers for Central America and making an impact globally. You’re praying for each other in a prayer chain that is active. You’re sharing fellowship weekly over breakfast with other men. You’re praying each week contemplatively. You’re volunteering as lay ministers for shut-ins in our church. Around bridge circles, hunting fields, Giant and Chipotle, lacrosse fields, and cubicles, you’re opening the doors and inviting people into God’s kingdom. Thank you.
A special word needs to go towards the youth and young adults. There’s something special about our youth group; they’re great kids! The youth take on a tremendous amount of responsibility, with Youth Sunday, Souper Bowl of Caring, the Car Wash and Showcase, and that’s just on Special Sundays! Having been around each and everyone of you has increased my vocabulary (Skyrim! George C. Marshall! Lacrosse!) and my love for youth. Thank you!
I have much love for my fellow staff members. They need a major shout-out. The Andrew Chapel’s congregation’s ears get a tickle each time Jeong-Hee plays the organ and piano. Thank you for scratching a musical itch I didn’t even know needed scratching; I love organ now! Kim Sayer-Marsh for coordinating the nursery; without your coordination, there would be less places where I might fit in. Jennifer deserves major props for being the face, and the voice, when you contact the church. She’s been great, especially with sometimes late bulletin info. John Gordon, whose eclectic musical prowess has been matched only by his mystical electric prowess. By their efforts, Angelica and Patty keep the church shining for all of us to enjoy. Bob Leggett whose whip which makes me oxymoronically frightened and excited for the future of ACUMC, never ceases to amaze by the majesty of music and moustache. And of course, Pastor John Morris who wears denim head to toe better than some, and inspires better than most. Thanks to God for your service! Thank you.
So thank you. Thank you for allowing me to put the emphasis of this goodbye on the first syllable, not the last. For the countless dinners, candies, and snacks, my belly thanks you. For the hours pouring over texts to discuss on Sunday morning, my head thanks you. For times spent collecting food and then delivering it, my hands (and I guess my hair) thanks you. And for the opening yourself to Emily and I, for the vulnerability and honesty, my heart says THANK YOU. I’ve learned so much about how to minister and more importantly, how to be ministered to as we all are ministers to one another.
So for the church that may not look like much when you zip by on the highway, upon a second look, it’s filled with a group searching daily for ways to love God more and to love each other more. May God continue to grant us the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and hearts to seek what God holds in store for all of us.