It has been another full day. This day was full of memories.
Mike and I returned to Sturgis today to finish clearing out his office in preparation for his last day at the Sturgis church tomorrow. There were fewer books, and I had them packed up quickly. There were, however, still files to be culled and sorted with bags and bags of trash to drag down the hall. We were determined to take only what might be useful for a new call – probably to an interim position.
Along with all the sorting were pictures. There were pictures of my little boys who were only 5, 7 and 9 when we arrived in Sturgis. There were pictures of Mike and me at a much younger age (just look at those kids in that picture!) And there were pictures of my family growing through the years at Sturgis. I wandered down the hall to the sanctuary and remembered preaching in the chancel, my children singing in the choir, playing handbells on the stage, and dancing down the aisles for the various musicals we did together. Outside I could see in my mind’s eye the Bible School tents and the children of the church dressed in “Bible School” costumes wandering through the 1st century market place we created. So many memories!
The sanctuary was also filled with memories of people we had loved and ministered with in Sturgis during my time there and in the 10 years that Mike continued in Sturgis after I went to La Porte. This remembering was aided by the most remarkable photo display. Someone from the “farewell team” had take the photos from the church directories over the last 20 years and enlarged them into 8-10 prints. Then they mounted them on cardboard and taped them to the pews. As I stood in the chancel I was looking at the congregation over the last 20 years. Many of those dear ones have passed on to be with the Lord. Some moved away. Some were still living in Sturgis. It was just wonderful to see them all together in that sanctuary and to remember so many old friends!
To be honest, there were moments in this day that I was sad over good days that were long gone, but as the day moved forward I found myself giving thanks for all of the good moments and warm memories I treasure from my time at Sturgis. We can never hold on to the past. The future always beckons us forward. So we get to choose if we will remember bygone days and be sad they are gone, or remember and give thanks for life and love shared with people we treasure.
Coming home tonight, as we came to the Elkhart exit, I said to Mike I am so happy that Elkhart is my home now. I love living in this town. I love the new church I serve, and I love the Elkhart congregation. I realize that I am making new memories of days I will treasure in the future as I look back… memories I will treasure even from these strange coronavirus days! We get to choose how we will remember.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. (Ecc. 3:1)
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