Memorandum from Bishop Bickerton
Memorandum from Bishop Bickerton
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Several years ago, I felt the urge to add a “tag line” onto all of my correspondence. I wanted it to be something that would provide an appropriate and hopeful send off to each letter I wrote. What emerged from that discernment was a phrase that has encompassed much of what I believe and hope for in life’s adventure: The Journey Continues, . . .
A few years ago, I found myself consistently prefacing my “tag line” with an additional sentence, especially in letters that I wrote to special friends and colleagues on the journey. That sentence simply says, “You are thought of, prayed for, and loved.”
That is the purpose for my writing this morning:
1. You are thought of
I arose early this morning with you on my mind. For many of you, today marks the beginning of another year of ministry in your current setting. Looking back over the years I fondly remember the joy of being able to stand in front of my congregation and say, “I thank God for another year of ministry with you” and celebrate my re-appointment to that setting. For others of you, today marks the beginning of a new chapter in your ministry adventure. I remember the anxiety of the unknown, the anticipation of what might be, and the joy of discovering that there are kind, good, loving people wherever you go. Our calling and the ministry we engage in is a gift of God’s grace. I have imagined each of you in your ministry setting today and celebrated the opportunity to serve God’s people in the place where you have been assigned. You are thought of today.
2. You are prayed for
This morning I took the 2017 Appointment book, laid my hands on it, and prayed for you. As my devotions for the day, I turned each page and read each of your names and the churches/settings where you are assigned. My prayer was a simple one, asking for God’s grace to guide and direct you in all of your discernment and endeavors. I prayed that it would be well with your soul. I prayed that you might awaken each morning with a sense of joy and purpose for your ministry. I prayed that others might see the face of Jesus when they look at and listen to you. I prayed that God might be glorified in all that you do. Today, you have been prayed for.
3. You are loved
Over the years, I have found that there is no more powerful combination of words than the joining together of these three. You and I can attempt to cobble together any other combination of theological words, phrases, and concepts, but none of them will move people deeper into the heart of God than these three simple words: “You are loved.” When my mother hangs up the phone she says those words to me. After all these years, they still move me to tears. When Sally and I go to sleep each night, we end our day with a similar phrase and I find myself going to sleep in peace. When I read scripture, and reflect on the ministry of Jesus, I am blessed by the manner in which he loved the loners, losers, and lost ones of the world. When I engage with friends and colleagues that I have been blessed to share the journey with over the years, those words connect us with a bond of friendship and grace that has lasted a lifetime. Today, I share those simple words with you.
It is a high privilege and honor to be able to share ministry with you. It is a joy to be in the midst of building relationships that inform and bless my life. It is a gift to be able to witness the manner in which God is using you and your uniqueness to bless and transform the world. Today, I give God thanks for each of you. As you begin yet another official year of ministry, whether it’s a familiar setting or a new one, I wanted you to know that you are appreciated and loved.
We do not know what the future holds during this next year of ministry. But we do know who holds our future. I believe that knowledge alone is enough to sustain and bless us along the way. But the real complement, the true “icing on the cake,” is the opportunity we have to support and encourage one another along the way. I haven’t positively impacted too many lives in my journey with words of judgement and condemnation. I do believe, however, that I have been able to bless someone along the way with words of grace and possibility. I pray that the same is true for you.
So, on this day of new beginnings, I simply wanted to write to each of you and repeat one of my favorite lines: Today you are thought of, prayed for, and loved.
The Journey Continues, . . .
Grace & Peace,
Thomas J. Bickerton