Dearest Hope Family,
My family and I extend our deepest, warmest, and most heartfelt thanks for your gift of sabbatical rest for us this summer. We are still savoring the sweetness of our time away – the adventures, the milestones, the change of pace and responsibility, the discovery of new rhythms and the renewal of old ones, the freedom to unplug and let the world pass us by for a season, and now we are eager to savor the sweetness of being back in community with you all, our church family. I look forward to filling in some of the details if you ever have interest; however, short of that longer conversation, please know that your gift has been treasured and an absolute grace to me and my family.
Ethan Smith deserves special commendation for assuming the lion’s share of my formal responsibilities, discharging them with excellence, and maintaining all of his other areas of oversight, too. Davis, Michael, and our faithful staff shouldered the load along with Ethan, and our Elders and Deacons were gracious to afford me the chance to break away for a sabbatical. It is hard to imagine a better group of people with whom I could pursue Kingdom ministry. I hope that you know what a unique church family we have.
As I enter back into the Hope community, I am acutely aware of the confusion and division and exhaustion that the pandemic and other cultural realities have created and amplified. The temptation to stay away from community because of anxiety, anger, or sadness is very real and very seductive. However, today is the day of salvation. Right now counts forever. God is at work in the here and now of our confusion, division, and exhaustion.
The simple acts of hearing from God’s Word, taking his praise on our lips together in worship, feasting at his table, and connecting with his people fortify us for this world and galvanize us for these anxieties and this inertia.
How I long to be face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder with you all this Sunday so that God can further form us into the people we desire to be and the people this world needs!
Grace and peace,