Amazed by Grace

Last night the church I serve as pastor threw me a surprise appreciation party, celebrating my six years of labor among and for the saints.

They gave their hearts to us: smiles, presence, and presents: homemade goods; a picture book of Scripture, writings and drawings; and a whole musical recital to boot.

Here were some highlights:
singing And Can It Be all together, acapella.
A Bay Psalter replica (first book printed in the New World)
A prayer of thanksgiving by fellow elder Mark.
Handwritten passage of Mr. Beaver describing Aslan ("He's the King, I tell you.)
A family singing "I'd Rather Have Jesus"
Music students gaining more performance experience!
Sneaky "party fairies" (aka social committee), enjoying planning and pulling one over on their very surprised pastor!

Sara is still trying to figure out where to put everything in the kitchen. We spent an hour late last night looking over each item in the LARGE gift basket. I finally got to the scrapbook/giftbook/photo album this morning - wonderful!

It is a deep and lasting encouragement to me to be deliberately, tangibly, joyfully, and Christ-centrically acknowledged and thanked by the flock for serving them. God's timing amazes me as He gives times of quiet and then activity, criticism and then encouragement. I find Romans 1:11-12 fitting: "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." While I usually come to a gathering of the church to give spiritual things for her establishment, it hardly occurs to me, or only as an afterthought, that I might find encouragement myself in our common faith and joy together.

Ephesians 3:20-21
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

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