Garland Of Grace -02.12.17

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Pastor and People; A Love Letter to Seventh Street, Valentine’s Day 2017

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all…” – Philippians 1:2-4

Dear Seventh Street family; because we are united in marriage together as pastor and people, I passionately desire for you to know and understand my pastoral love for you.  So the following thoughts from the pages of my heart serve as my Valentine to the church.  To begin with, I pray it is an accurate snapshot of my heart. Secondly, it is a letter without limits. It expresses a pastoral love with no limitations, escape clauses, fences, borders or boundaries. Know this; I sincerely love each and every one of you individually and desire God’s best for your life.

This is why it is so important to me that you know and understand how thankful I am for the Seventh Street family, of whom I have had the honor and privilege of shepherding for almost three years.  Words cannot express the God-given love etched upon my heart for you. In these last three years, we have leaped for joy in celebration over the victories of life, and we have walked alongside each other through the fiery trials that have come our way.  We have sailed together through seasons of tranquility, and we have tightly held on to the anchor of God as we traveled together through rough uncharted waters. We have recently rejoiced together over the exuberant arrivals of newborn babies, and we have shed tears of sadness in the hallways of hospitals. In these first three years together, there have been seasons of marrying and burying, along with tears of gladness and sadness.  I pray that you understand my fervent passion to lead and feed this flock.  I do not know of another flock of sheep that I desire to pastor more than the flock that God has graciously placed in my care. I am humbled by this great responsibility given to me by our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

I also want to express my appreciation for embracing my family in the way that you have. In a sense, I am guilty of pastoral polygamy. I make this statement in light of our marriage together as pastor and people. Our courtship began back in March of 2014 when the church extended a call to me as pastor. But what is really awesome is the fact that you let my wife join us as our relationship began!  Thank you for embracing her with such a fervent love, and thank you for the patience and loving care you show towards our children. We are so thankful that God wove us into the tapestry of this church, and we are thankful to call Cullman, Alabama home.

I also pray you see my love in action through teaching God’s Word to the Seventh Street family, and ministering to you all in various ways.  I am sure in the last three years that there have been times that I have failed you.  But I pray that in the midst of my flaws and failures, you see not some expression of disinterest, but rather a reminder of how human I really am.

I must admit, there are aspects of pastoring that I do not care for. Occasional disputes within the church family are sometimes hard to grasp. Discontentment and impatience expressed by church members can be discouraging.  Trivial things have a tendency to taint the flowing waters of the Holy Spirit through the life of our church, and personal preferences can be cumbersome and overshadow things that really matter. But stacked up beautifully against these occasional negativities is a deep refreshing wellspring, gushing with all the joys of pastoring.

Maybe it has been a while since you received a love letter.  I pray that you treasure my thoughts of you.  They have been penned with the ink that stains my love filled heart.  I look forward to our relationship in the future, and eagerly await the blessings God has in store for our relationship as pastor and people.

Pastor Eric

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