Your expressions of love toward Sharon and myself come to us year-round, in a multitude of ways, and I am so very grateful. When I talk to other pastors, I brag on you--every single time. I sometimes have to restrain myself because I realize that to the uninitiated it may sound as though I am making it all up. Seriously. This is the kind of church most pastors dream of pastoring.
I realize there are great churches everywhere, but it just seems that we are a really good “fit.” To paraphrase the much-loved Frank Pollard, “I wasn't born in Utica but I got here as fast as I could.” When I think of you (which is all the time), words from Paul's letter to the Philippians come to mind: “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (1:3-5).
Here’s just a little of why I appreciate you.
1. Your love and understanding. As you know, Sharon and I both battle ongoing health issues. Sharon's prevents her from being here with us, and she dearly wants to be. She misses seeing you. My problems prevent me from doing much of what I believe your pastor should be doing, and this weighs on me heavily. But you are so kind, loving and understanding–and you back all of it up with prayers.
2. Your own difficulties. You have said that Sharon is an inspiration to you, and I certainly know that to be true. But we have watched you as you have gone through your own problems. You have stayed faithful to our Lord, even while trying to figure out what to do next.
3. You are genuine. Sometimes after our services, I just stand and watch you. You truly love to be with each other. You laugh and love. You hug and shake hands. You share your lives with others. You love your church. You love your community and invest yourselves in making it a better place to live. You reach out to those who visit our church
4. Your generosity. You reach deep into your pockets to help others who need assistance. Year after year we meet and exceed our missions offering goals. The number of Christmas boxes we send to Samaritan’s Purse is astounding for a church our size.
I could go on and on–and on. But I think you get the idea. For however long the Lord allows us to be together, let us commit ourselves to Him and to the great work He has given us. Thank you for the privilege of being your pastor!
--Rocky Henriques, www.uticabc.com